Pediatric dentistry is an area of dentistry that focuses on the oral health of children. Starting good dental hygiene habits early in life is important. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, more than 50% of children under the age of nine have had at least one cavity in their baby teeth, and…
FAQs about Sterilization and Disinfection for Infection Control at Grand Parkway Pediatric Dental
Sterilization and disinfection protocols are essential to the infection control measures at Grand Parkway Pediatric Dental. When preparing for a dental appointment, it is important to know that emergency procedures are done safely without worries. This article answers questions that people have about sterilization and disinfection protocols during the COVD-19 outbreak.
How are sterilization and disinfection done in the dental office?
In dental offices, instrument cleaning, sterilizing and disinfecting all happens at the designated central processing area for better quality control. Additionally, this ensures safety. The instrument processing area has different physical sections for receiving, cleaning and decontamination, sterilization, preparation and packaging and storage. The sections are created to isolate contaminated items so that they do not interfere with items that are clean or already sterilized.
Reusable, contaminated dental tools and devices are collected, sorted and cleaned in the cleaning area. The packaging area is meant for examining, collecting and packaging clean tools ahead of final processing. The sterilization and storage area contains sterilizers and similar supplies, including incubators for analyzing spores tests and enclosed storage for sterile instruments and disposable items.
Why is cleaning necessary before sterilization?
Cleaning is always done before disinfection and sterilization procedures to ensure effective infection control. Cleaning entails removing inorganic and organic debris from a dental tool or device. Failure to remove the visible debris could mean inhibition of microbial inactivation and can negatively affect the disinfection and sterilization process, which could ultimately diminish infection control.
How is cleaning performed?
Debris is cleaned off an instrument through manual scrubbing with a surfactant, detergent and water, automatic devices (like washer-disinfector and ultrasonic cleaner) or chemical agents. After cleaning, the instruments will be rinsed with water to eliminate residues from the chemicals or detergent. The rinsing and cleaning are completed with minimal splashing, which ensures good infection control.
The choice of cleaning methods and equipment depends on the effectiveness, the suitability for the instrument and the risks regarding occupational health and exposure. Since there is no need to presoak or scrub instruments when using automated cleaning equipment, their use enhances productivity, ensures efficient cleaning and reduces exposure to blood and body fluids. Therefore, using automated equipment is more efficient and safer than cleaning contaminated instruments manually.
How is manual cleaning done?
If manual cleaning is not done promptly, instruments will be stored in a container and soaked with a detergent, disinfectant or an enzymatic cleaner to prevent the debris on them from drying. Additionally, these chemicals make the manual cleaning process easier and straightforward. The CDC also recommends the use of long-handled brushes to keep the hand safely away from sharp instruments.
What form of personal protective equipment is needed when cleaning instruments and surfaces?
Instruments are treated as contaminated until they are processed through sterilization, except if the instrument has gone through a thermal washer or disinfector with an advanced disinfection cycle. To prevent injury from sharp tools, personnel wear puncture-resistant heavy-duty utility gloves when handling or manually contaminated equipment and appliances. To stay protected from splashing, they will wear a face mask, face shield or eye protection, as well as a gown or jacket. PPE ensures infection control is maintained.
Infection control practices
To learn more about sterilization and disinfection for infection control, contact Grand Parkway Pediatric Dental for more information.
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