How Dentist Sterilize Their Dental Instruments and Keep Patients Safe

A dentist in West Brookfield sterilizing dental instruments.Dental instruments are some of the most important utensils you can find in a dental office. They are designed to remove harmful plaque and tartar, make it easier for the dentist in West Brookfield to view the deep crevices of the mouth, and remove teeth at risk of spreading harmful infections. As part of strict safety guidelines, offices must sterilize these instruments often to avoid cross-contamination as required by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here’s how they get it done!

Why is Sterilization Important?

Once dental instruments are used, they have the potential to carry germs that could infect other patients getting their treatments done. To ensure bacteria and viruses (including COVID-19) do not spread within the office, dentists follow specific sterilization procedures as well as use disposable tools as needed.

How Does Sterilization Work?

Instruments that can be used more than once, such as dental mirrors, scalers, elevators and forceps are placed inside of a specialized sterilization pouch, then placed into an autoclave. An autoclave is a device recommended by the American Dental Association for cleaning reusable dental instruments. It uses high-pressure saturated steam to disinfect the instruments, killing all harmful bacteria and viruses. The bag itself actually changes color once it’s been heated, so dentists never accidentally use unclean tools.

Which Equipment is Thrown Away?

While many types of dental equipment are reused, some are made from material that would break down if placed in an autoclave. This includes the tips placed on the suction device that remove excess saliva during treatment and air/water syringes, which are thrown away after one use. Other items that are carefully disposed of according to ADA regulations include gloves, cotton rolls, and syringe needles.

What Else is Sanitized in the Office?

Dental instruments are crucial to completing many of the treatments a dentist performs, but sterilization is necessary for commonly touched areas all over the office as well. Once exam rooms and common areas (like the waiting room) are organized, they can be deep cleaned and disinfected. In the operatory, you may notice that the monitors you view X-rays on and the keyboard the dentist uses are covered in plastic, making it easier to disinfect them throughout the day. Team members also work to sterilize light switches, door handles, counters, faucets, and other areas on a regular basis.

At the end of the day, keeping patients safe is the highest priority for dentists and their team members. The next time you need to visit a dentist, you can do so knowing that they’ve sterilized the instruments they use to keep you safe!

About West Brookfield Dental

Dr. Alkhoury and Dr. Tengco go above and beyond to keep dental instruments and commonly-touched surfaces within the office sterilized at all times. They and their team members work hard to create a safe and healthy environment for patients of all ages, ensuring that you can complete your routine dental appointments in confidence. To schedule an appointment, you can contact them through their website.


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9 West Main St.

West Brookfield, MA 01585

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(508) 867-2777

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