Dental Sterilization, Disinfection, and Cleaning in Infection Control
Dental Sterilization and Its Importance
The term ‘sterilization’ refers to any process that eliminates all forms of life, including transmissible agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and spore forms. There are many ways in which this can be achieved: chemicals, high pressure, heat or irradiation may come into play for those methods not uncommonly practiced by industry professionals such as in dentistry.
Sterilization and disinfection are the basic components of infection control activities in dental practice. Every day, a number of dental offices perform various surgical and endodontic procedures. Other invasive procedures are also being performed in different dental facilities by professionals who use instruments that come into contact with infected tissue or mucus membranes during the process which can increase the risk of contracting an infectious disease from a patient to yourself as well.
Sterilization in dental offices is a way to destroy all the microorganisms on an object or in fluid, preventing potential diseases associated with its use. The risks of using inadequately sterilized critical items are high since they can easily transmit pathogens that could be very harmful.
The concept of what constitutes “sterile” is measured as a probability. This helps determine the sterility assurance level (SAL) and it can be seen in numbers, like 10-n where n represents how many spores survive one round of sterilization.
When it comes to decontamination, health care professionals should have a thorough knowledge of the different methods and their compatibility. For example, some agents may be more toxic than others or they might not work well in certain areas (like an operating room). It’s important that these people know how each agent works so we can avoid causing any harm during treatment.
Sterilization, Disinfection, and Cleaning in Dental Offices
The process of disinfecting and cleaning in dental facilities is a crucial part of maintaining safe, clean surroundings. Disinfection includes the use of chemicals for wiping down environmental surfaces as well as decontaminating dental equipment such that it can be reused safely with little risk or chance for contamination.
In order to effectively remove germs, bacteria, fungi, and viruses from all areas within a dental clinic, it is essential that the CDC Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities (2008) is taken every day by staff members who routinely work around dangerous materials like blood products or wastes which may transmit infections if not handled properly.
Dental sterilization is a process that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life and is carried out in dental care facilities by physical or chemical methods. Steam under pressure, dry heat, EtO gas, and hydrogen peroxide gas plasma (among other processes), are used to sterilize items such as surgical instruments before they can be reused on another patient. Sterilizing these devices may seem like an easy task; however, there are some instances where the definition becomes confusing – disinfectant versus sterilizer for one example.
The reprocessing of items that come into contact with mucous and mouth fluids is critical to avoid the transmission of infectious diseases. The Food and Drug Administration has approved three methods for heat-sensitive reprocessed goods: plasma sterilization, ethylene oxide (EtO), or liquid sterilization using glutaraldehyde or PAA. All packed sterile items should be kept with the proper precaution to avoid environmental contamination. This is important for the safety of both you and your patients.
Disinfection is a process that eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms on inanimate objects. For example, after an operation, you can disinfect any instrument with liquid chemicals or wet pasteurization so they don’t pose as threats to other patients who might use it later on – but only if used correctly. Otherwise if not cleaned properly then each of these factors could nullify its efficacy.
The disinfection of dental equipment depends on its physical nature, the character of the material it is made up of, lumen size, etc. Thorough cleaning is preferred before the use of the disinfectants as cleaning effectively removes the majority of the microbes from the equipment.
Compared to sterilization, disinfection is not sporicidal. A few chemicals will kill spores with prolonged exposure times (3-12 hours); these are called chemical sterilants. At similar concentrations but with shorter exposure periods (e.g., 20 minutes for 2% glutaraldehyde), these same chemicals will kill all microorganisms except large numbers of bacterial spores; they’re called high-level disinfectant agents.” Low-level sanitation can only clean most vegetative bacteria and some fungi without any effect on viruses in a practical period of time (> 10 minutes).
Cleaning is essential in dental settings. In order to prevent the spread of diseases, dental clinics must be sterile and clean before any surgeries can take place or patients are admitted for treatment. Otherwise, there will always be an increased risk that infections may occur due to bacteria being left behind on surfaces like door handles, floors etcetera after previous occupants have been through them with their hands covered in potentially harmful substances from wounds they might also carry. Furthermore, it’s important that cleaning techniques are used which don’t leave streaks or residue so as not to impede staff members’ visibility during daily activities such light changes won’t create shadows where germs could remain hidden away either. Decontamination removes pathogenic microorganisms from objects so they are safe to handle, use or discard.
Dentists and staff should always be mindful of the cleanliness of dental offices. They need to wear PPEs or protective gear, like gloves, masks, and gowns while they’re working. The dental staff needs a specific area where everyone can take off their clothes before continuing work in another part of the building so as not to contaminate other areas with bacteria or germs that may have been picked up from an unclean surface during clinical intervention activities such as wound care or administration of medications.
Dental staff may also be exposed to pathogens so they should have proper training in cleaning and decontamination of surfaces. Wet mopping for floors is encouraged as it generates fewer dust aerosols than dry mopping does. Mopping of the dental surfaces should be done using detergent. Table tops and counters should also be cleaned regularly with detergent only.
For the health and safety of your patients, staff, and yourself it’s important to use EPA-registered detergent/disinfectant when cleaning surfaces and floors.
Hayes Handpiece Repair offers CDC Dental Guidelines and Infection Control, Dental Handpiece Sterilization and Equipment Maintenance, and Dental OSHA Training to ensure that you and your staff can reduce workplace hazards, and properly sterilize dental handpieces and instruments, and disinfect operatory equipment and your entire dental office.
For other in-office or virtual training, you may also visit the links below:
- CDC Dental Guidelines and Infection Control
- Dental Handpiece Sterilization and Equipment Maintenance
- Dental OSHA Training
- Dental HIPAA Training
- CE Credits In-House Training
Hayes specializes in various dental handpiece repair and dental instrument sharpening and retipping. Our experienced technicians have decades of experience working with all major brands of dental handpieces including: