At our dental office, we take the sterilization of our tools, equipment, and surfaces seriously. We follow the strict and informative guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA) to inform our guidelines.
We know you may have questions about our processes, so we wish to share those with you know. We want our sterilization in procedures and maintenance practices to be transparent, so you always feel comfortable coming to us for your dental work.
What is your process for the sterilization of dental instruments?
We thoroughly sterilize our various tools, equipment, and surfaces between each patient. The recommendations set out by the CDC are what we follow each and every time.
Per these guidelines, we divide our dental sterilization procedures into the following categories:
- Critical instruments: these include scalpel blades, surgical burs, and bone chisels. After they penetrate soft tissue and bone during a dental procedure, they are immediately discarded or sterilized in a dental autoclave.
- Semi-critical instruments: such as air-water syringes and condensers, which do not penetrate soft tissue or bone but meet body fluids. These tools are immediately cleaned and sterilized with a high-level disinfectant.
- Non-critical clinical contact surfaces: including countertops and light switches. Because they may encounter body fluids, they are either covered or left uncovered and sterilized between each patient with intermediate- or low-level hospital-grade disinfectants. If covered, the covering must be discarded regularly.
Our dental professionals cleanse and disinfectant their hands between patients and as often as needed. PPE, personal protective equipment, like masks and smocks, are always used and regularly discarded.
How do you ensure infection control in dentistry?
While the first step to ensuring a safe and clean dental office is by following the protocols listed above, we also strive to follow a maintenance policy. This is set out by the ADA and guides us in our processes to ensure steps towards infection control are preserved.
Our specific maintenance procedures are as follows:
- Mechanical indicators : these are in place for every load of instruments we put through our dental autoclave machine. Temperature, cycle time, and pressure are all noted on the sterilizer gauge and recorded.
- Biological indicators : this includes both mail-in and in-office monitoring. Only biological indicator endospores can measure the effectiveness of the sterilization process.
- Mail-in : though it may take up to two weeks to receive results, this allows us to send incubator and spore monitoring strips to third-party labs.
- In-office : results take up to 48 hours and allows us to test that our incubator and spore monitoring strips are up to standards.
- Chemical indicators : which include indicator tapes that change color after a proper sterilization cycle has occurred. Different tapes are used for different sterilizers. These are used with every load of instruments you put through our dental tool sterilization machines.
Any time a mechanical, chemical, or biological failure is indicated, the tool or equipment in question is not used until a reason for this failure is detected and fixed.
Closing remarks on our dental office sterilization and infection control in dental office procedures
We hope that you now better understand the stringent processes we follow to ensure every instrument and surface is cleaned and sterilized.
Sterilization and infection control are activities we take seriously. By closely following the guidelines set out by the CDC and ADA, we are able to ensure that our clients, our coworkers, and our community are safe from potential outbreaks.
If you have any lingering questions for us about our procedures and practices, do not hesitate to contact us. We hope to serve you again in the near future.