Cleaning and sterilization go hand in hand
Cleaning and sterilization is a very important part of any dental practice. If a patient were to discover that their dentist was not properly sterilizing their handpieces before reusing them, it would not take long for that patient to find a new dentist. Both cleaning and sterilization are important parts of any dental practice, but you should not do one without the other. Cleaning the handpiece is not sufficient on its own and just sterilizing it would not be enough to really clean it on the inside either.
What Comes Before Sterilizing
Cleaning and lubricating must be done before sterilizing. It is important to take the dental handpiece apart and clean it thoroughly after each use. If this is not done thoroughly the handpiece will deteriorate over time and will most likely have to be replaced or fixed. After the cleaning is finished, lubricate all of the parts that require it and rub any excess lubricant off after you are sure the handpiece is properly lubricated.
Autoclaving: Why it is Important
Since it came out in the 1990’s, autoclaving has changed the way dental offices sterilize their handpieces. Every dental practice should own at least one autoclave because of the superior way they sterilize. Before autoclaves, sterilization was done at the temperature of boiling water, but an autoclave will actually sterilize the instruments at an even higher temperature than boiling water, ensuring that the handpiece is properly sterilized. Autoclaving is necessary because some dental handpiece parts would be harmed if immersed in boiling water.
Cleaning the Autoclave
You may end up seeing the autoclave as just one more thing to clean, but it is just as important to clean it regularly as it is for you to clean your handpieces. If an autoclave is not properly maintained and cleaned, it will acquire build up over time and this will transfer to the instruments that it sterilizes.
Will Autoclaving Wear Down Your Handpieces?
Some dentists are wary of autoclaving because they have heard that autoclaving will put wear and tear on their instruments, shortening their lifespan. Dental handpieces are not cheap, and dentists like them to last as long as possible. However, not properly cleaning and sterilizing the handpieces will also shorten the lifespan of any handpiece, and studies have proven that as long as you properly maintain your instruments, autoclaving will take a lot longer to deteriorate your handpieces. They will still see a good lifespan before you start to notice any wear and tear.