Decontamination – a safer future

DecontaminationAt a time of economic instability and political turmoil within dentistry, purchasing decisions are made with a certain degree of reticence. It is no secret that dentists all over the country are being inspected for correct procedures and with a backdrop of media hype and inflammatory criticism, making the right decisions when investing in your practice’s decontamination facilities is imperative for the effective and profitable functioning of your business.

Busy dental practices are increasingly facing the serious challenge of maintaining productivity, whilst ensuring the safety of patients and the team. These seem like incompatible goals, so the top priority when purchasing decontamination equipment is to ensure that you are enhancing the safety of your team and your patients, whilst ensuring fast, efficient hygiene processes are put in place and adhered to. This is possible due to a plethora of high quality processing equipment now available at affordable prices. Advances in dental processing equipment empower practices to develop safe processes, while realising efficiencies and remaining economical. It is absolutely critical that all members of the practice team understand the value and importance of effective infection control.

Decontamination best practice

Advice from a decontamination equipment specialist, such as W&H, can help you to understand the wide array of products that are available to assist you. There are a number of issues facing you where decontamination is concerned. It is important that the dental team follow a strict cross-infection regime in accordance with local and national guidelines and ‘best practice’. For some time now practices have had strict hygiene regimes to safeguard the team, patients and maximise longevity of dental instruments, and it is worth regularly reviewing the most effective methods of improving these to meet current guidance and improve the work-flow.

The use of thermo-washer disinfector dryers, such as the Thermoklenz from W&H, is considered to be ‘best practice’, for a number of reasons. A risk assessment will show that a member of the dental team manually cleaning soiled and contaminated medical instruments with sharp protrusions is at increased risk of sharps injuries. In addition the Thermoklenz ensures a reproducible, validatable, medically effective washing process, that will ensure you are doing the best you possibly can to reduce the risk of cross infection amongst your patients and your team.

Dental equipment

Accredited thermo washer disinfectors are sophisticated medical devices manufactured for purpose; thorough cleaning is achieved by very high water flow rates at high pressure. These machines use formulated and validated solutions for the particular machine cycles, developed to take into account cleaning efficacy balanced with the necessity to minimise damage to instruments. The cycle must be monitored at all stages and a printed or data record stored. If you are looking to purchase a thermo washer disinfector, be aware of the medical standards and guidance demanded as the machine has to reliably and reproducibly process contaminated items in a medical environment. Do not be tempted to use non-recommended detergent or accessories as they may not be validated to be effective in a dental environment. It is worth taking advice from your instrument and handpiece suppliers to ascertain which machines are approved for use with their products as some chemicals may be harsher and more damaging than others, and if your instrumentation is not maintained correctly it may negate your warranty.

For those looking to prolong the working life of their handpieces, the ideal solution is to invest in a specialist handpiece maintenance system, such as the W&H Assistina. The Assistina is designed to effectively clean and lubricate your handpieces prior to sterilisation, without compromising their efficacy, maintaining your handpieces for optimal working and increasing their working life. The Assistina 3×3 offers a real alternative to putting handpieces in a thermo washer disinfector prior to sterilisation as it cleans externally as well as internally, including spray channels and transmission parts with over 99% validated cleaning efficacy.

A good reliable steriliser is essential to the running of any dental practice. The W&H Lisa offers an efficient fast cycle from 14 minutes and a B cycle in just over 20 minutes. When choosing a steriliser, you need to be looking at speed, load size and reliability. Although a non-vacuum process may appear to be acceptable, instruments sterilised in this way cannot be pre-wrapped and are for immediate use only. It is also imperative to ensure your chosen steriliser is designed for effective sterilisation of handpieces and other lumened instruments, such as those containing tubes, threads or hinges. A vacuum B process is ideal, giving you peace of mind regardless of the load type being processed. With a handpiece, the steam must penetrate internally including the small bore internal tubes such as spray water, spray air, drive, exhaust air and gear mechanisms – and this cannot be achieved if there is air remaining, which acts as an insulator. The instrument has to be fully purged by the vacuum air removal process, leaving the way clear to facilitate sterilisation. Sterilisers that offer an integrated solution for traceability of the cleaning process make it very easy to be HTM 01-05 compliant.

Following a vacuum B process, pouched sterilised loads can be stored for up to a year according to current HTM 01-05 guidance. The W&H Seal is a convenient user-friendly choice for fast, easy bagging of your instruments.

High quality

W&H offers high quality decontamination products and backup, with UK based sales advisers and service engineers who will support customers today and in the future. With W&H you can be confident in the knowledge that you will receive the assistance you require in selecting the right products and services to suit your individual needs. They will also be happy to discuss options for funding your purchase, including future maintenance costs: it is worth asking about finance including rental as this may prove beneficial both from a tax and cash flow perspective, as well as service contracts, which include regular maintenance as well as breakdown cover. Invest wisely in your decontamination facilities; it may be more cost effective to source complete solutions from one provider especially when looking long-term at continued service and validation requirements.

For more information regarding the issues of decontamination within your practice, please contact W&H, a specialist decontamination supplier, for advice. In order to fulfil your responsibility for the duty of care and safety of your team and patients, don’t take risks with decontamination; invest carefully for a safer, more efficient future.

For more information on W&H products and services go to or call 01727 874990.

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