Is that Clean?

We all know dental checkups are the best. You sit in a comfy chair, staring down all those shiny metal instruments. You know that you aren’t the only patient who has been in today, so are these tools clean?

The American Dental Association, working with the Centers for Disease Control, sets guidelines for dental tool sterilization. Various tools are broken down into three distinct categories, each of which is treated differently based on risk.

Critical tools. These are tools that may penetrate tissue or bone, such as scalpels, forceps, and scalers. All the scary ones, if we may be so blunt. Because they’re penetrating into sterile tissue, it’s absolutely crucial that these tools be sterilized after each and every use by using steam under pressure, dry heat, or chemical heat.

Semi-critical tools. These are the other instruments you see in the office that don’t poke of prod you – mirrors and dental trays for impressions. While sterilization after every use is nice, an EPA certified high-level disinfectant will work as well.

Non-critical tools. Only coming in contact with skin, such as x-ray components and blood pressure cuffs, have a relatively low risk of transmitting infection, but still cleaned between patients with a medium-level or low-level disinfectant, suitable for hospital use.

Proper safety procedures greatly reduce patient risk, and your dentist happily complies with the most recent ADA guidelines for managing tools in a safe manner. If you have any concerns, do not be afraid to ask about the tools & cleaning processes next time you’re in the office. But there is honestly nothing to fret – dental instruments have been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

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