Safe & sterile treatment is one of the marvels of modern dentistry, and you may not even know it! A cornerstone of medicine, the ability to control the spread of disease and infection is of paramount importance to a well-functioning dental practice. Often taking place behind the scenes, appropriate sterilization and infection control systems play a vital part during any dental treatment.
“Historically, boiling water and alcohol were used to sterilize instruments in medicine and dentistry,” Dr Tuffley says.
“Modern dental technology has improved our capabilities in this regard – not only is equipment like surgical gloves and masks now standard, but the existence of ultrasonic cleaners and purpose built sterilization units means that dentistry is safer than it has ever been.”
Not only does this keep you safe, but it also means that our staff are kept safe too. So how do we make sure that we continue to do all we can?
Sterilization by the Numbers – It’s a Team Effort
Just think about it – each day dental practitioners in Australia treats thousands of patients, and for each of these patients we use a multitude of dental instruments and medical supplies.
Many of these supplies are single-use & disposable – such as sharps, surgical masks and gloves – and it is our job to make sure they are disposed of correctly. But what about the dental instruments we don’t throw away?
We have a dedicated sterilization room with a team of auxiliary staff just for this purpose.
Our sterilization department keeps all our instruments clean, and this is accomplished by a multiple stage cleaning and sterilization process. Each day, our sterilization department does up to twenty four cycles of sterilization – and this is equivalent to roughly 5,400 cycles of sterilization per year!
While the specific process may differ for each department, for example Prosthodontic or surgical instruments, a general overview of sterilization and some of the machines used can be read below.
Instruments are initially ordered, washed by hand and checked by eye. This initial manual check is the first part of our sterilization & cleaning.
This gives the benefit of a real person performing a visual check and quality control that an automated clean may not …..
Our ultrasonic machine uses high frequency sound waves that can’t be heard by the human ear!
Much like an opera singer vibrating a crystal glass, these ultrasonic waves vibrate the medical instruments at a very fast rate. These vibrations clean the surface of the instrument and free any debris that is stuck to them.
Our dental instruments are passed through a washing cycle on this machine with a fit-for-purpose detergent that is mild and low irritant.
This polishes and shines them, while also helping to preserve their condition – similar in effect to an automatic dishwasher at home but specifically designed for cleaning & disinfecting medical instruments!
The final stage of the processing involves heating to 134 degrees Celsius in our sterilizing unit.
This makes sure that any remaining germs are killed, and instruments from the sterilizer are then sorted and double checked!
Sometimes We Need a Second Opinion!
Not only do we have a dedicated team to keeping our instruments in a good hygienic standing, but we also make sure that we submit our on-site policies for evaluation to respected industry groups and dental bodies.
These third parties help us maintain and improve our levels of practice safety, BOH Dental’s Clinical Administrator Allison says,
“This is to ensure that we are up to date with a national standard throughout our practice, which includes a thorough evaluation of our infection control.”
Evaluation by these groups, such as QIP, addresses many key safety criteria, with one of the directives of their program to”provide independent recognition that (your) organization is committed to safety and quality”.
Your Safety is Our Priority
Employing best practice when it comes to hygiene & cleaning is a job that requires constant attention and awareness, and we are proud of the work our sterilization unit accomplishes on a daily basis.
In unison with our approach to keeping instruments clean and hygienic, we also share a comprehensive commitment to patient and staff safety that extends to everyone in our practice.
We are committed to keeping you safe, our staff safe, and anyone that walks in to our practice can be assured that we have taken every measure possible to make sure that your dental treatment is performed in a safe, comfortable and clean environment.