Sterilization Tracking in the Dental Industry

Infection control in a dental clinic is a very important part of everyday operations. Infection control is all about preventing the transmission of infections through the instruments and surfaces that are used. During procedures, any risk of this can be easily avoided when the proper systems are in place. Sterilization tracking is one of the important systems that should be implemented to ensure proper disinfection and sterilization of your dental and surgical instruments.

The most common procedure for sterilization tracking is using spore tests, which can also be referred to as biological indicators. Along with that, mechanical and chemical monitoring is necessary to help detect other errors such as an overloaded sterilizer, incorrect packaging or equipment malfunctions. Mechanical monitoring can be monitored during the sterilization cycle which allows for an alert of an error in real-time and you can keep records of this through a data logger or printer. Chemical monitoring uses sensitive chemicals that change colour when exposed to high temperatures. They can be tape, stripes or tabs. These chemical monitoring checks also give you the results at the time of the cycle so there is no delay.

In most cases, dental clinics are required by the national and provincial governing bodies to verify the proper functioning of the sterilization cycle by using a biological indicator. Team members responsible for this task should be properly trained, and have them properly recorded so you can pull up the history at any time.

If a spore test does come back positive, there are other factors that can be causing the problem.  It does not necessarily mean that your sterilizer isn’t working. First off, check that the chamber was not overloaded, that there is no excess packaging present, that the tools were exposed to the proper amount of time, and check the temperature and pressure settings or if there was an interruption in the cycle. If any of these were incorrect, you would run a retest. If all of those items were correct and you have a failed test you should stop using the sterilizer and call your dental service provider.

Understanding and correctly implementing sterilization monitoring as part of a dental infection control program is a must for the safety of patients and team members. At Central Dental Solutions, we are experts in infection control. We strive to be up to date with the latest regulations and trends. If you have questions about your infection control program, please do not hesitate to contact us by emailing or calling 1-800-665-7302.