Behind the Scenes: The Sterilising Room
One of the more important areas of the dental practice is a part that you rarely see: the sterilising room. It’s where instruments and cleaned, processed and sterilised, and its one of the area’s we’re most proud of. At Cornerstone Dental we have adopted the highest standards of instrument processing only matched by large dental hospitals. We strictly follow the ADA’s Guidelines for Infection Control, The Australian Guidelines for Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare and the Australian Infection Control Standard AS/NZS 4815.
Universal (Standard) Precautions against cross infection are practised at Cornerstone Dental. That means we assume all patients pose a risk of spreading disease. The dentist must wear glasses, a mask and clean gloves, the last two of which must be changed for each patient or sooner if damaged. You must also wear a bib and safety glasses for your own protection. The dentist must wash their hands between each patient or use a hand rub to disinfect. All needles and sharps used by Cornerstone Dental are single use only and are discarded immediately after use or if the outer packaging is damaged in any way. These are things you can observe, but the sterilising room is often hidden away. If you would like to request a tour we are more than happy to show you what we do next!
Once instruments are removed and the surgery is cleaned with surface disinfectants, the instruments are transferred to the central sterilising room for pre-cleaning. Best practice is to use an automated washing process, using a machine called a thermal disinfector. It is much like a dishwasher, only a lot hotter and tougher. Hand-scrubbing of instruments is a common first step of processing, but it can be ineffective and hazardous for staff. Ultrasonic cleaners may also be used, but may not clean effectively with heavy loads, or if cleaning solutions are not regularly changed. Studies have demonstrated that thermal disinfectors are more efficient at reducing the bacterial load during pre-sterilisation cleaning than either ultrasonic cleaning or hand cleaning of dental instruments. At Cornerstone Dental we use a Miele Thermal Disinfector. We still use an ultrasonic for specific instruments, like tiny dental burs (‘drill bits’), where this style of cleaning is effective.
Another feature we use are instrument cassettes. These are stainless steel containers to pack and hold instruments in, making it much safer for staff to transfer equipment to the sterilising room. The instruments can actually be cleaned whilst still in these cassettes, once again minimising handling, maximising safety. Once pre-cleaned in the disinfector and dried, the instruments are transferred to the autoclave. We have the latest Melag Steam Steriliser. Data from daily compliance testing and each cycle are logged into an internal computer. Internal indicators are used inside the steriliser chamber, which change colour when exposed to the right amount to steam. The Melag Steriliser has many smart safety features that stop anyone from using it if it is not operating 100%. Of course, we do have our equipment routinely checked and maintained- the machine even tell us when it is due! The steam steriliser runs using distilled water, which is produced using a reverse-osmosis unit. Our Melag steriliser is unique in that it has the filling and draining of this water in-built and automated, once again minimising the chance of human error.
Cornerstone Dental is committed to providing the very best in services to its patients. Parts of these commitments include ongoing testing and servicing of all equipment within the practices, a continual review of the protocols used and quality assurance testing. In addition the equipment manufacturers carry out regular scheduled servicing on behalf of Cornerstone Dental.
Each of our highly trained staff follows standard operating procedures to use our modern equipment. They are also continually training in new techniques to ensure that a high standard of service is maintained. For your safety, and the safety of our staff, we have designed our practice to be efficient, clean, and give you piece of mind when you come to visit.