Sterilization of ‘tools’ used in a dental office

In dentistry, sterilization of the invasive tools and instruments used is very important. Tools which are commonly sterilized include those such as detectors, mouth mirrors, pliers, elevators, dental scalars and tips. Medical technicians who are involved in the sterilization of the dental equipment and tools usually keep record of them, the chemicals which are used and the maintenance of the equipment as well.

Unless the tools and dental equipment are properly sterilized, a variety of saliva and blood-borne pathogens can easily travel from patient to patient. Here are some of the ways in which tools used by a dentist are sterilized:

Saturated Steam

amThis is probably one of the sterilizing methods which many dentists prefer when it comes to decontaminating instruments. This is also the method which is most recommended by manufacturers of dental instruments since it helps to take care of nearly all dental instruments and materials.

Steam and Chemical Sterilizers

In this method, non-saturated steam is used at 132 degrees Celsius along with a solution of water and chemicals. This sterilizing cycle runs for roughly 20 to 30 minutes. A prime advantage of the method is that there is no corrosion of carbide steel or other materials which are sensitive to corrosion. However, it does produce a somewhat hazardous chemical residue and so the process has to be performed in an area which is well-ventilated.


These chemical solutions which are iodine-based are used because of their germicidal properties. They help reduce the staining effects and caustic capacity of many common pathogens found in to instruments. These instruments are soaked for roughly 5 to 20 minutes in the solution in order to be fully sterilized.

Chemical Disinfection and Sterilization

In this method, the tools are not subject to extreme temperatures. The disinfection action is largely dependent on the amount of time for which the tools are soaked in the solution. On top of this, the method also requires plenty of brushing and cleaning off of dental debris found on the surface. Various mixtures of synthetic preparations, phenols are occasionally used in the decontamination of these dental tools. They work great with cleaners like detergents

Pre-vacuum Steam Autoclaving

Tools which are sensitive to moisture and heat can be put through this machine. These sterilizers are fitted with a pump in order to create a vacuum in the chamber where the tools are places. This will allow positive steam penetration all over the entire lot. In the case of tools which are sensitive to heat and moisture, a chemical called Ethylene Oxide is used.

For more information, please contact us at Big Smile Dental. We would be pleased to schedule a consultation.

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