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Decontamination of Dental Instruments

Washing handsDecontamination of instruments is a multistage process that involves cleaning, thermal disinfection, inspection and sterilization. Suitable facilities, equipment and trained personnel are required to carry out these processes.

As part of a national initiative to promote and standardise good decontamination practice SDCEP provides guidance specifically for dental practices entitled Decontamination Into Practice.Guidance on local decontamination units and a framework to support staff development in decontamination are also available.

An effective system for the management of decontamination, with the associated documentation, helps to ensure national standards for decontamination are consistently met and provides a means of demonstrating that this is being achieved.

Refer to the SDCEP Decontamination Into Practice guidance for detailed advice on setting up and carrying out instrument decontamination. Use Managing Decontamination in Dental Practice when reviewing or setting up a system for decontamination management.

Write a policy that states the practice’s arrangements for decontamination (see Decontamination Policy and Procedures template).  Include details of:

  • the facilities
  • staff training
  • the transport of instruments within the practice
  • instrument cleaning and inspection
  • instrument sterilization
  • equipment testing and maintenance
  • the management of decontamination failures

Put together written practice procedures that describe:

  • segregation of instruments immediately after use in the surgery
  • each cleaning method used (e.g. washer disinfector, ultrasonic cleaner, manual cleaning) and inspection
  • steam sterilization and instrument storage
  • equipment testing
  • how decontamination failures are dealt with

Ensure staff are familiar with the practice’s decontamination policy and follow the related procedures.

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