Its our duty of care to ensure we take every step to stop any cross-infection in the surgery. We have very strict systems and procedures in place to ensure this does not occur.
One-use disposable barriers
Plastic barriers are used to cover the areas the dentist or nurse commonly touches, such as the light handle or chair control pad. These barriers are removed after every single patient. The surgery and all of the items used, like the safety glasses and material dispensers are then wiped over with a surfactant before new barriers are placed.
The items required to complete the procedure are already set up to reduce the need for the nurse to open the cupboards and draws and single use items are used where possible. If something is required from a cupboard or drawer however, the nurse will either remove their dirty gloves or use a clean pair of tweezers to retrieve any needed items.
Post Operative Sterilisation
Once the procedure is finished, the dentist removes any sharps from his working area and disposes of them into the infectious waste sharps bin. The nurse then strips the surgery down, cleans it and takes the “dirty” instruments to the sterilisation area. Here the instruments are soaked and scrubbed before being placed into the ultrasonic cleaner, filled with disinfectant and water for 10 minutes.
An ultrasonic uses high frequency sound waves to create Cavitation bubbles. These bubbles act on any contaminants which may still be left on the instruments. The instruments are then rinsed and dried thoroughly. Instruments classed as critical (instruments that penetrate soft tissue) like extraction forceps, are placed into a single use sterilisation pouch. These instruments carry a tracking number with the date and a steam indicator. This indicator is activated when the prescribed time and temperature parameters are met. This is then recorded both in the sterilising log book as well as into the patients’ treatment card. This allows us to ensure and record that these critical instruments have been properly sterilised. Each day before the autoclave is used, we run a Helix test. In order to sterilise by steam, the steam must be able to contact every surface of every object in the load. Hollow instruments or instruments in packaging, such as the sterilisation pouches, are difficult for steam to penetrate, this is why steam sterilisers are fitted with vacuum pumps. These pumps remove the air and allow the steam to penetrate the objects. The Helix test verifies the autoclaves’ vacuum is working efficiently.