Survey of the decontamination and maintenance of dental handpieces in general dental practice

Smith, G. W. G., Smith, A. J. , Creanor, S., Hurrell, D., Bagg, J. and Lappin, D. F. (2009) Survey of the decontamination and maintenance of dental handpieces in general dental practice. British Dental Journal, 207(4), E7. (doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2009.761)

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Objectives To determine how dental handpieces are decontaminated and maintained in general dental practice. Design Observational survey. Setting The survey was carried out in general dental practice in Scotland. Survey visits ran from January 2003 until the end of March 2004. Methods Data were collected by interview and observation in 179 dental surgeries in Scotland. Results In virtually all surgeries, handpieces were cleaned before disinfection or autoclaving (99%; n = 177), most commonly by wiping the external surface with a cloth impregnated with disinfectant. Most surgeries lubricated their handpieces after cleaning and before sterilisation (91%; n = 162), although a number of surgeries (24%; n = 42) also lubricated their handpieces after sterilisation. In the majority (97%; n = 174) of dental surgeries, all handpieces were autoclaved after use, most frequently (89%; n = 160) in a bowl and instrument steriliser. In 38 surgeries (21%), handpieces were being wrapped (paper pouches) before sterilisation in bowl and instrument sterilisers. A minority of surgeries (20%; n = 36) had a dedicated handpiece for surgical procedures. Conclusions: The majority of dental handpieces are manually cleaned externally with a disinfectant impregnated cloth and processed in a type N (bowl and instrument) bench top steam steriliser. Handpieces are lubricated with non-water soluble lubricants at different stages of reprocessing, indicating clarification is required in this area. More work is required by manufacturers to establish a validated cleaning and lubrication process to facilitate the sterilisation of handpieces.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bagg, Professor Jeremy and Smith, Professor Andrew and Lappin, Dr David
Authors: Smith, G. W. G., Smith, A. J., Creanor, S., Hurrell, D., Bagg, J., and Lappin, D. F.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Dental School
Journal Name:British Dental Journal
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group for the British Dental Association

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