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  • Writer's pictureMDS Medical Autoclaves

Dental sterilization warning

A research study from the University of Glasgow published in the Journal of Hospital Infection appears to throw doubt on the safety of certain sterilization techniques available to dentists and recommends steam sterilization as the gold standard.

The findings

The results are alarming: Five non-vacuum bench-top sterilizers in use at general dental practices were tested. Sterilization cycle times ranged from 16 – 25 min, with plateau periods of 3·5 – 4·5 min at 134°C. The period over which temperature differences between the sterilizer chamber and the inside of the hand pieces occurred ranged from 0 sec – N/A, which meant that some hand pieces did not achieve sterilisation temperature during the whole cycle. In contrast, all hand piece types demonstrated either a CI or BI fail (or combination of both). In both studies the surgical hand piece and the chuck lever location was the type and location most likely to fail sterilization. Co-author Brian Kirk of Glasgow Dental Hospital wrote: "In conclusion, we report investigation of sterilisation process outcome using a unique combination of TM, CI and BI tests according to International standards. These test results demonstrate that the non-vacuum process is unreliable and fails to achieve sterilisation within dental hand pieces, especially surgical hand pieces that are commonly used in more invasive dental procedures such as dental implants."

An increasingly common procedure

With an increase in conditions such as peridontal disease this situation is bound to get worse over time. Is your dental practice using a good quality steam sterilization Autoclave? In a world of blame and claim, it seems increasingly important to do so.

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