One of the greatest concerns in any dental practice is cleanliness and sanitation throughout the office. Sterilizing and disinfecting dental instruments is especially important in order to prevent the transmission of infection. At dental assistant school in Columbus, you will learn how to properly sterilize the various instruments so that the health and safety of patients is ensured.
Levels of Sterilization
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classify dental instruments into three categories, depending on how high the risk of transmitting infection. These three catgories are:
Critical:Dental instruments that penetrate soft tissue or bone or that may come in contact with blood. These instruments must be sterilized after every use. They include forceps, scalpels, bone chisels and others. Sufficient sterilization is achieved through pressurized steam, dry heat or heat/chemical vapor.
Semi-Critical:This category includes dental tools that may come in contact with non-intact skin or mucous membranes but that do not penetrate soft tissue or bone. Some are reusable impression trays, amalgam condensers and mirrors.
Non-Critical:These instruments only come in contact with intact skin. These are what you typically see around the dentist’s chair and include blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters and X-ray heads. Cleansing with an intermediate-level disinfectant is adequate.
What is an Autoclave?
The autoclave sterilizer was invented in 1879. A very basic autoclave is similar to a pressure cooker; both use the power of steam to kill bacteria, spores and germs that are resistant to boiling water and powerful detergents. Also called dental sterilizers, these reach temperatures as high 270 degrees Fahrenheit to completely sterilize instruments.
How Does Ultrasonic Cleaning Work?
Ultrasonic baths take advantage of a process called cavitation, when high frequency sound waves create microscopic vacuum bubbles. When these bubbles are forced against the object being disinfected, they collapse and force the surrounding cleaning solution to fire into the space the bubbles once occupied.
This creates a powerful scrubbing action that gets into even the tiniest spaces. This is highly advantageous when cleaning dental instruments.
Sterilization Steps with an Autoclave
There are six steps in the sterilization process of dental instruments:
- Cleaning, both manual and mechanical
- Rinsing with filtered water
- Drying with compressed air pistols, paper towels or a clean lint-free cloth
- Visual inspection
- Sterilization packaging of instruments in material that allows the passage of steam
- Sterilization to destroy or eliminate all microbial life forms
As a student in the dental assistant program in Columbus, you will learn further details about the sterilization process. Call the program now to enroll in the next set of classes to become a dental assistant.
About Dental Assistant Pro
Would you like to enter the rewarding field of dental assisting? Dental Assistant Pro offers a program of 10 Saturday classes that includes lectures and hands-on training. We operate in a state-of-the-art training facility. Contact us in Lebanon or Westerville for more information.