How Dental Professionals Clean Their Instruments | Oak Lawn Dentist

skd284147sdcWhen you’re sitting in the dentist office waiting for your appointment, you notice all of the tools that may or may not end up in your mouth. Ever wonder how they sterilize them? The American Dental Association, working with the Centers for Disease Control, sets guidelines for dental tool sterilization. Each tool is listed in one of three categories and treated based on risk.

Critical tools. These are tools that may penetrate tissue or bone, such as scalpels, forceps, and scalers. Because they are used on sterile tissue, it’s crucial that these tools be sterilized after each and every use. The ADA requires that these tools be sterilized using steam under pressure, dry heat, or chemical heat. An autoclave is a pressure chamber used to carry out industrial processes requiring elevated temperature and pressure different to ambient air pressure. Autoclaves are used in medical applications to perform sterilization.

Semi-critical tools. Any tool that comes in contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin, mirrors and dental trays for impressions should also be sterilized after every use. However, it’s permissible for these tools to be disinfected with an EPA certified high-level disinfectant.

Non-critical tools. X-ray components and blood pressure cuffs that only come in contact with skin have a relatively low risk of transmitting infection. However, they are still cleaned between patients with a medium-level or low-level disinfectant.

If you would like to find out more about sterilization practices, contact Dr. Bartz in Oak Lawn, IL at 708-430-4440 to schedule a consultation. Or visit for additional information.

Dr. Bartz proudly serves Oak Lawn, Chicago, Orland Park, Burbank, Palos Hills and all surrounding areas.