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Importance of Autoclaves – Everything You Need To Know

The dental practice is among the medical methods that have a high risk of getting infections from patients with certain diseases. Microorganisms present in the blood and saliva of patients can quickly spread from one patient to another or from the patient to the dentist.

Therefore, it is essential to protect patients, dentists, and staff of a dental clinic through the proper sterilization practices of reusable instruments with the use of an autoclave

Why Do You Need to Sterilize Dental Instruments?

Sterilization is the process of eliminating any microorganisms and spores on surfaces of objects to prevent the spread of infection. In dental clinics, reusable dental instruments touch the inner mouth of patients.

These instruments come in contact with the patient’s mucous membrane, blood, and saliva. Studies have shown that there are around 100 million microbes in one milliliter of saliva.

Sterilization ensures that reusable dental instruments are free of disease-carrying microorganisms before they are used on the next patient.

What Are Autoclaves?

An autoclave is a pressure-controlled chamber used by medical practitioners to sterilize reusable instruments and supplies. Autoclaves work by producing high temperatures (around 132 degrees Celsius) and pressure environment inside the chamber to kill all types of microorganisms and spores that may have stuck to the instruments from prior usage.

The average length that tools undergo autoclave sterilization is about 20 minutes but may vary depending on the amounts and sizes of instruments being sterilized at the same time.

The autoclave chamber produces a sterile environment for the instruments by providing heat above the boiling point of water. The hot steam produced by the heating process can penetrate porous devices and even fabric to discover any microorganisms that may be stuck between porous materials.

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How to Choose the Best Autoclave for Your Dental Clinic

If you have a dental practice, the chances are that you may already have a method for sterilizing your instruments. However, if your methods still do not include the use of an autoclave, it is about time that you get your autoclave. Here is an effective guide on how to choose an autoclave for your dental clinic.

  • Choose the Right Autoclave Class

There are three classes of autoclave based on their intended use. 

  • Class N

Class N autoclave is ideal for use with simple, robust instruments. This class of autoclave does not have a vacuum pump feature, which allows the steam to be forced to enter porous and packaged tools. Class N autoclaves are used mainly for auxiliary units and are not suitable for dental or medical clinics.

  • Class S

Class S has built-in vacuum pump features that sterilize more sophisticated instruments that Class N autoclaves cannot correctly sterilize. However, Class S autoclaves cannot thoroughly sterilize instruments that have capillary actions such as instruments with tubes. Class S units can be used for primary healthcare facilities.

  • Class B

Class B autoclaves are also known as medical autoclaves are best suited for medical and dental practices. Class B autoclaves have multi-stage vacuum processes that allow for a more thorough sterilization process as compared to both Class S and N units. Class B autoclaves are ideal for surgical, veterinary, cosmetic, and dental clinics. 

An added benefit of modern Class B autoclaves is their USB port feature, which allows you to chronicle all sterilization processes. This recording feature is useful for keeping track of sterilization records, which you may need for whatever purpose.

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