The sterilization of dental instruments is essential to guarantee a safer working environment, after all, this process destroys the microorganisms present in the sterilized instruments, reducing the risk of cross-contamination between patients.
In today’s content, you will understand more deeply the standards that govern this process and the importance of adequate sterilization in dentistry.
The fourth biggest cause of death in the world is hospital infections, caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses. In Brazil, the Ministry of Health states that this problem causes the deaths of approximately one hundred thousand people per year.
Many people believe that cross-infections only occur within hospitals. In fact, they tend to be more serious in the hospital environment. However, the dental office is also an environment that needs attention in relation to the microorganisms present there.
This attention is important to prevent this serious problem and all the attitudes linked to this, such as the correct hygiene of instruments and utensils, make a difference.
In the health sector, we call biosafety the set of standards and measures used to prevent, reduce, control or avoid risks that could compromise the lives of healthcare professionals.
Especially in Dentistry, professionals are highly exposed to contamination, as most procedures are performed in the oral cavity, the place most contaminated by microorganisms in our body!
More than that, many procedures also involve contact with fluids such as purulent secretions and blood. So, in the dental office, biosafety is essential not only for the health of professionals, but also to avoid cross-contamination between patients and prevent disease transmission.
Intended for the disposal of biological material and washing of utensils, containing a sink with countertop, hand basin and waste cone. In purging, all “dirty” material is received by the sector and cleaned before sterilization.
Intended for sterilizing the utensils used, containing a hand sink and autoclave. Prior to autoclaving, the materials are inspected, identified, separated, packaged and prepared for sterilization.
Over time, different methods have been developed to eliminate microorganisms present in dental instruments. However, processes have been increasingly improved in order to enhance safety in relation to cross-contamination. Discover some types of sterilization processes and find out which method is recommended:
The oven has already been widely used in the sterilization process, however, for this process to be effective it was necessary for the instruments to remain at a temperature of 180 degrees for two hours so that oxidation could occur.
Due to the lack of automation of the process, health surveillance no longer allowed oven sterilization, with the aim of avoiding incorrect use and, consequently, poor sterilization of dental instruments.
The chemical sterilization that can be used in dentistry is that which occurs through the diffusion of ethylene oxide, as this method manages to eliminate the microorganisms present in the instruments through the destruction of their DNA.
However, due to the need to use ethylene oxide gas, this process is generally dependent on a company that provides this service, which makes the method less viable for day-to-day clinical practice.
The autoclave is the most used equipment for dental sterilization and has a hermetic closure, that is, entirely closed. The process is also carried out at high temperatures and aims to eliminate microorganisms to prevent cross-contamination and disease transmission.
This elimination of microorganisms present on the surface of dental instruments occurs through the degradation of organic molecules, generated by hot steam under pressure, and this is the method recommended by health surveillance.
To do this, the instruments must be properly cleaned and packaged, remaining for 15 minutes at a temperature of 121 degrees. It is important to remember that not all material can be sterilized, only heat-resistant ones.
The packaging of sterilized materials serves precisely to keep them sterilized after removal from the autoclave, for a maximum of one month. Careful handling of packaging, especially with sharp materials, is essential to avoid punctures and recontamination.
Another important precaution is to keep the instruments packaged and sterilized away from light, in a dry place and arranged without stacking. Furthermore, the surgical grade used for packaging should not be used more than once, as water vapor penetration may be affected and this may impair the effectiveness of the process.
For greater safety, the dentist must monitor sterilization and record this monitoring, maintaining the seven-day sterilization expiration date and, after each use, discard the packaging used for sterilization. Discover the types of indicators used in dentistry and their functions:
The most used class 1 indicator in dentistry is striped tape, also known as “zebra tape”. It serves to indicate that the material has been sterilized, by changing the color of the stripes, which become black. However, this type of indicator is not capable of informing the quality of sterilization.
These indicators are capable of detecting changes in temperature, time and steam quality, which is why they must be used in each sterilization cycle. Through them it is possible to monitor all critical parameters of the sterilization process and there is no class 6 indicator reaction until 95% of the cycle time is completed.
This is the most recommended method for certifying the correct functioning of the autoclave. Through viable bacterial endospores inside, they indicate whether the sterilization process was able to eliminate these microorganisms. The biological indicator must be used at least once a week.
The results of the tests used must be recorded in an autoclave monitoring notebook, by affixing the labels of the tests used.
Paying attention to the rules regarding the sterilization of dental instruments is a dentist’s duty and also an act of care and commitment to the health of the patient and the entire team. Remember that health surveillance often carries out surprise visits, which emphasizes the importance of following the rules appropriately to avoid problems.
Read more content from Aditek’s blog, written by experts in the field, and learn about the brand’s high-tech orthodontic products!
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