If biological contamination and other debris are not removed properly, the remaining matter can interfere with microbial inactivation during sterilization. This compromises the process, putting patients and staff at risk for cross contamination from previous patients.
We use a Hydrim, an automated dishwasher-like machine that washes, rinses, disinfects, and dries dental instruments. The decontamination process physically removes infections and organic matter from the surfaces of the instruments. Instruments are disinfected during a high-temperature cycle. Afterwards, the instruments are wrapped and prepared for sterilization.
Autoclave and Statim
The dental instrument decontamination process always involves cleaning followed by disinfection and/or sterilization. Sterilization promotes safety for our patients by completely destroying of all forms of microbial life, including spores. We achieve this by using a gravity displacement steam sterilizer called an Autoclave.
Pressurized Hot Water and Steam
In its most basic form the autoclave is a pressure cooker. Water is heated in a highly pressurized environment creating steam, which forces any air inside the chamber out through a valve. This process of removing the air and leaving only steam in the chamber is essential for the destruction all pathogens and ensures your safety.
Our autoclave heats the water to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, and exposes the instruments to 15 pounds per square inch of pressure for 15–20 minutes, depending on the size of the load and its contents.
A Statim for a Quick Turnaround
A Statim is a smaller version of an autoclave. Its thin stainless steel walls allow for rapid heating and cooling of the chamber. As a result, the Statim meets the conditions for sterilization and drying in a fraction of the time required by a conventional autoclave. When turn-around time is a priority, a Statim can achieve sterilization in 6 to 9 minutes.
Chemical and Biological Indicators
To assure sterilization is achieved we monitor our system by using a combination of chemical and biological indicators.
Heat-sensitive chemical indicators (in the form of tape, strips, and special markings on packaging material) indicate exposure to heat by changing color. Indicator strips are placed inside each pack or on the outside of each pack when the internal indicator is not visible from the outside, to identify packs that have been processed through the heating cycle.
Chemical indicators do not replace biological indicators, as only biological indicators consisting of bacterial endospores can measure the microbial killing power of the sterilization process.