As a dental practitioner, it is imperative that you place an emphasis on sterilizing the dental handpieces used in your facility to prevent patients from developing potentially dangerous infections. We all know and understand that utilizing dental handpieces without engaging in autoclaving places patients at risk as the instruments instantly become a source of cross contamination. This was made clear by the Centers for Disease Control in the year 2008 when they released information stating that dental handpieces have the potential to become contaminated on an internal basis with various types of patient materials. The organization continued by stating that all handpieces should be sterilized with heat immediately following use. Many doctors simply take barrier protection measures or wipe the instruments with a disinfectant; however, this does not guarantee that patients will not develop an infection.
Obtaining Dental Handpieces That Are Considered Safe, Based on Sterilization Requirements
When purchasing dental handpieces for your dentistry practice, it is important to only choose those that may be appropriately sterilized. To date, the most effective and highly recommended methods of sterilizing dental handpieces include using sterilizers that are composed of chemical vapors, using a dry form of heat, and using autoclaves. Many dentists are under the impression that ethylene oxide gas is an appropriate form of sterilization; however, this is a myth. This form of gas is not recommended for use on dental handpieces. When obtaining dental handpieces, you must also consider the following:
- Is the dental instrument designed in such a way that it may be autoclavable?
- Does the device have a design that is sleek and smooth? You will want these types of dental handpieces because they will not hold patient debris.
- Is the finish composed of a substance, such as titanium, that has the unique capability of withstanding the dental sterilization process for a long period of time?
Does Sterilization Destroy Dental Handpieces?
It is a fact that the sterilization of dental handpieces has the potential to decrease the overall life expectancy of the instrument; however, sterilization is not the only factor that plays a role in the longevity of the instruments. Regular maintenance is also an important factor when it comes to just how long a handpiece will last. According to a study conducted by a branch of the United States Military, if a dental handpiece is regularly and properly maintained, there could be as much as 500 unique sterilization cycles of the product without a visible reduction in performance. While sterilization does result in some level of degradation of dental handpieces, it is less costly to replace a dental handpiece than it is to cover the expense of a patient developing an unnecessary infection from your practice or losing your reputation as a reputable practice. By ensuring the proper sterilization and maintenance of your dental handpieces, you will find that patients do not develop any type of potentially serious infections from your practice. For more information, contact us here at Hughes Dental by calling: 800-773-0800