How Does Steam Sterilization Work for Dental Products?
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How Does Steam Sterilization Work for Dental Products?

Long the industry standard, steam sterilization has played a critical role in allowing busy dental offices to sterilize dirty dental instruments safely and efficiently. Rendered by a device called an autoclave, steam sterilization can be applied to various dental products, including scalers, probes, and dental handpieces. Ultimately, many dental care workers wonder just how does steam sterilization work for dental products.

Steam sterilization works through introducing extreme heat and pressurized steam to the surface areas of dirty dental instruments. This process ensures that pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms are destroyed. Yet, since steam sterilization can be a harsh process, your dental products must be durable enough to withstand repeated autoclaving. Fortunately, the dental product experts at Orissal offer instruments and handpieces specifically designed to take the tough conditions brought on by steam sterilization.

Our e-commerce platform provides a convenient avenue for busy dental offices to research, shop, and purchase dental equipment. If you are interested in learning more about how steam sterilization works for dental products, please visit our website.

How an Autoclave Sterilizes Dental Products

In the most basic sense, autoclaves use heat and pressurized steam to sterilize dental products. The key component of an autoclave is the complete removal of air from the sterilization chamber. After the air is removed from the chamber, the dirty dental products are exposed to hot, pressurized steam. Without air present, the steam can effectively penetrate the surface area of the contaminated dental instruments, thereby destroying potentially harmful pathogens. The hot, pressurized steam destroys pathogens by attacking their structural enzymes and proteins. By altering the structure of a pathogen irreparably, the pressurized steam prevents bacteria and viruses from replicating and functioning.

Autoclaves generally remove air from the sterilization chamber in one of two ways. For instance, gravity displacement autoclaves inject steam directly into the chamber. This results in the steam, which is heavier than the air, forcing air out of the chamber through a drain vent located at the bottom of the autoclave. Alternatively, pre-vacuum autoclaves employ a vacuum pump to suck the air out of the sterilization chamber. Once the air is removed, steam is introduced to the chamber, and dirty dental products are sterilized. Here is a brief guide on how to use an autoclave:

  1. Clean and wrap your dental products according to the guidelines set forth by your equipment manufacturer.
  2. Place the contaminated instruments inside the autoclave chamber and secure the door. Once the door is shut, the sterilization process will begin.
  3. Once the process completes, make sure there is no pressure in the chamber and then remove the instruments from the autoclave.
  4. Ensure that your dental products are thoroughly dried as this prevents re-contamination. Once dry, your steam-sterilized dental products are ready for use.

It should be noted some autoclaves offer different temperatures and run times. For example, some “flash” cycle autoclaves employ short run cycles of 3 to 10 minutes while subjecting dental products to temperatures of 273° F. Alternatively, standard cycle autoclaves run longer cycles of 20 to 30 minutes while attacking pathogens with steam heated to 250° F. When deciding which autoclave is best for your dental office, it is vital to consider cost, size, and how much time you can dedicate to dental product sterilization.

Orissal offers dental instruments and equipment which can be customized to withstand the harsh conditions of steam sterilization better. For instance, our scalers, probes, and other equipment can be purchased with an optional titanium coating. This coating is not only more durable for patient use but also increases corrosion resistance. Considerations such as these are why Orissal better understands the needs of dental healthcare providers than our competitors.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Steam Sterilization

Steam sterilization by autoclave provides dental offices with many benefits along with a few potential drawbacks to consider. Yet, compared with other sterilization methods, such as using unsaturated chemical vapors or applying dry heat, steam sterilization is the standout. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to utilize steam sterilization for dental products in your office.

Benefits of Steam Sterilization

Aside from offering deep penetration to the surface areas of used dental products, steam sterilization has several other benefits. Generally low cost, steam sterilization is environmentally friendly, producing little waste beyond entropy. Moreover, steam sterilization is also effective on liquids, making it ideal for re-usable dental products. Autoclaves are also time-efficient, with longer cycles only being 30 minutes at most. Time is critical in a busy dental office as patient appointments often stack up. Having sterilized, readily available dental products prevent appointment delays. Autoclaves are also easy to operate provided you follow the manufacturer guidelines.

Disadvantages of Steam Sterilization

The primary drawback of employing steam sterilization is the toll it can impose on your dental products. The high heat and moisture can corrode carbon steel items, leading to rust formulation on the surface areas of your dental instruments. This could be a costly incident, forcing you to buy more equipment if damage occurs. Additionally, steam sterilization can leave hard water deposits on your dental products. These deposits not only look bad but can also impair the effectiveness of your dental instruments. Lastly, steam sterilization is only as good as packaging that you encase your contaminated dental products within. In other words, make sure that the wrap or pouch you use for your dental tools applies to your autoclave.

Fortunately, Orissal offers products that are designed to fight corrosion and rust. Our Anaqa line of elevators, including luxators, couplands, and chisels, comes with a 1-year product craftsmanship warranty. In other words, if you follow the proper guidelines on steam sterilization and still incur corrosive damage, we will replace your product. This is because we take pride in our craftsmanship, as well as our customer service.

Contact our Dental Product Experts to Learn More About How Steam Sterilization Works for Dental Products

Busy dental offices need a sterilization process that is time-efficient and effective at destroying pathogens. Steam sterilization by autoclave ticks both of those boxes while providing very little in the way of disadvantages. Orissal offers dental products designed with materials that neutralize the potentially corrosive effects of steam sterilization on dental instruments. If you want to learn more, please visit our website.