Over the last few years, studies have emerged citing insufficient attention to sterilization in dental offices. A failure to disinfect or sterilize contaminated items before use can lead to several issues for the patients in your care. Exposing patients to harmful pathogens will not only put them in danger, but it has the potential to damage the success of your practice. The proper medical device packaging and sterilization within your dental office should be your highest priority.

Several potential safety risks come into play when proper sterilization is not followed. Here are a few reasons why you may want to rethink your equipment, processes, and procedures:

Multiple methods of transmission

Dental offices are responsible for preventing transmission from providers to the patient, from patient to patient, and from the environment to the patient. While standard precautions must always be followed, proper disinfecting and sterilization practices must be followed. Following the correct procedures can help prevent transmission to your dental staff and patients keeping everyone safe.

A plethora of potential bacteria and viruses

It is common knowledge that dental patients and healthcare providers can be exposed to various bacteria and viruses. The list includes influenza, HIV, hepatitis B and C, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, tuberculosis, staphylococci, and streptococci. In addition, several different bacteria and viruses can be transmitted easily as they inhabit the mouth. Transmission of any number of these bacteria and viruses can create irreversible consequences for both patients and providers.

Your practice is on the line.

You are required to follow the correct sterilization procedures in the best interest of the health and safety of your staff and patients. It is also important to note that legal consequences can result when the required steps are not taken. All dental office personnel must be educated on proper sterilization techniques, including how to properly use and maintain the equipment. It is also essential that you are using medical device packaging systems that are meant for the closure of the sterile barrier system pouches. Ensuring the appropriate training and equipment utilization will provide peace of mind from threats to your license or practice.

Understanding the potential risk factors is just as important as knowing and understanding the necessary steps you can take to ensure the proper sterilization procedures are taking place within your dental office. Make medical device packaging a priority with best practice utilizing the latest technology and medical pouch sealers and autoclaves. The following sources can be utilized to further educate yourself on rules, laws, and best practices.

Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation

The AAMI provides several useful sources to ensure you stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest sterilization and packaging techniques. Among other benefits, you will receive information from industry experts and discover the latest peer-reviewed research.

American Dental Association: Infection Control and Sterilization

This resource shares appropriate infection control procedures based on the CDC guidelines. The ADA outlines the proper sterilization of instruments and materials and details the importance of sterilizer monitoring within a dental office.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Oral Health

The CDC provides detailed information regarding a dental practice’s cleaning, monitoring, packaging, and storage procedures. Additional details regarding the proper setup of a central instrument processing area can be located within this resource.

In an environment with the potential to transmit several severe viruses and bacteria, adequately trained staff, adequate sterilizers, and packaging machines are a priority. The health and safety of your team and patients cannot be overlooked as the consequences could cause trouble for all involved parties. Utilizing the proper resources and staying up to date on the newest and best practices within your industry will ensure you are doing everything possible to maintain the health and safety standards your practice deserves. When proper procedures are followed, you preserve the peace of mind that allows you to focus on providing the best care for your patients.

You’re encouraged to do the necessary research and take the time to ensure your office provides the best sterilization procedures and education for your staff.

-Hana D’Amico

Sources:

Dental sterilization errors take third on list of top 10 health technology hazards. Dentistry Today. (2021, September 30). Retrieved September 14, 2022, from https://www.dentistrytoday.com/dental-sterilization-errors-take-third-on-li…

Ensure best practices for Infection Control in your Dental Office. Dentistry Today. (2021, September 30). Retrieved September 14, 2022, from https://www.dentistrytoday.com/ensure-best-practices-for-infection-control-…