Thursday July 2, 1998
DEAR DR. MADY: I have had some concerns about instruments in a dental office. Could you give a brief description of the different ways dental equipment should be disinfected and sterilized? - Miriam J.
Dental offices today use a variety of methods to disinfect and sterilize instruments and equipment. This is accomplished by techniques that assassinate microscopic organisms capable of causing diseases, including the AIDS virus.
Common acceptable sterilization methods include an autoclave (oven) that utilizes steam under pressure, dry heat in an oven-like environment and vapor sterilization with chemicals.
All instruments are cleaned by hand and ultrasonic methods prior to any of the above processes to remove larger debris and guarantee a thorough job.
Disinfection procedures using soak and spray-type liquids are preferred on surfaces and equipment that cannot be removed for regular sterilization or items that cannot be heated.
Examples in the treatment room include counter tops, chairs, stools, light handles, drawer handles, X-ray machines, plastic pieces and the like. Also, many dentists now utilize several disposable items in their practices to decrease any chances of cross contamination.
This column is reprinted with the permission of the author and The Windsor Star. "Ask the Dentist" is written by Windsor dentist (and ECDS member), Dr. David Mady Jr.. The column appears the first Thursday of each month in the Windsor Star. Readers with questions can write to "Ask The Dentist", c/o The Windsor Star, 167 Ferry St., Windsor Ontario, N9A 4M5