Keeping dental equipment sterilised at all times is essential for every dental professional. Sterilisation is a step-by-step process that requires meticulous attention. Dentists learn infection control training in medical school and are fully aware of the importance of disinfection.
In case you need a refresher, here are measures to keep your dental equipment and instruments germ-free and safe to use on your patients.
Steps to Sterilise Your Dental Instruments
Now more than ever, it’s vital to use a disinfector for dental equipment. Proper cleaning and sterilisation are mandatory in keeping the dentist and patient safe from infectious bacteria.
Wear Protective Gear
Before you get started, make sure you’re wearing your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE includes your face mask, safety eyewear, protective clothing, and utility gloves. Your PPE helps you prevent contamination while handling the unsterilised dental instruments. It prevents you from infecting the tools and vice versa. As a health standard, you should be switching PPE between patients and cleaning procedures.
Transport Tools Properly
There should be a separate segment and cleaning area for dental equipment. Transport your instruments in a tight, leak-proof container to a different cleaning station.
Pre-soak the Tools
Many steps go into cleaning dental tools. Before dental equipment gets sterilised, it has to be thoroughly cleaned. First, pre-soak your instruments and remove any visible debris. It’s a must to clean your tools immediately after use. Cleaning residue becomes difficult if left to dry, particularly for biological debris like blood. For infection control, you can spray a solution that helps keep organic build-up moist.
Clean the Dental Instruments
To remove the remaining debris, use a scrub with detergent, surfactant, and water. You can also use chemical agents for a faster process. Don’t forget to wash off the detergent or chemical solution and any remaining residue with running water. Before sterilising, the instruments and equipment have to be handled with care to avoid contamination.
There are many ways to clean your dental equipment. You can opt for ultrasonic cleaning, manual scrubbing, and automated washers. If you want to clean your tools faster, automated cleaners are a must-have.
Dry Instruments Thoroughly
Before putting your dental instruments in a steam autoclave or sterilisation equipment, you must ensure the tools you just cleaned with water are dry. If you insert wet tools in a steriliser, they will also come out wet. The moisture might cause unwanted contamination. To get the most out of the sterilisation process, give them time to dry properly.
Wrap and Put in the Dental Instruments Carefully
Once they have dried, insert the tools in wraps and pouches to ensure they are clean when you take them in and out of the autoclave. Use a wrap that can handle the conditions of a steaming autoclave while penetrating the sterilisation agent. You should put a reasonable amount of tools inside the autoclave.
Overloading a steam autoclave could be the cause of failed sterilisation. It doesn’t stop there; you should also monitor the sterilisation and disinfection process to see if the machine is doing its job.
Although there are other sterilisation tools like dry heat and unsaturated chemical vapour sterilisation, the steam autoclave is the most common sterilisation equipment and the reference point for this guide.