Protection Against Infection: Handpiece Management

Protection Against Infection: Handpiece Management
April 6, 2020 Dental Depot

Infection control and prevention should be the number one priority in every dental practice and medical clinic. With the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are learning now more than ever about the importance of effective health, safety and hygiene practices. Below, we discuss the various ways in which you can stay on top of infection prevention when it comes to handpiece management in your practice with a handy checklist for your practice to use!

How can you ensure that there are effective and up to date infection controls in place?

Ensure that your entire dental team and/or clinical team, are completing infection control and prevention processes in the exact same way. Establish clear, step by step procedures in order to ensure that safety guidelines are adhered to. The standardisation of any process helps to ensure that each step or infection control task is being completed exactly as it should be by any given team member.

It’s recommended to have infection control audits taking place within your practice on a regular basis in order to ensure that all health and safety practices are effective and current under the Australian Standards for Infection Control, the ADA Infection Control Guidelines and the National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines. With multiple governing bodies in place, it’s vital that your practice stays on top of the various regulations. It’s important to note that each of these organisations have updated their infection control standards in the last 12 months.

An audit is the most effective way of discovering and resolving any non compliant problem areas within your practice. When these issues are left unchecked or unaudited they can often snowball into much larger problems. This is also an excellent way to educate yourself and your staff, and develop your infection control protocols.

Handpiece Management

In order to manage your handpieces properly, you must establish clear schedules and streamline processes for cleaning, maintaining and sterilising them. This will help you to achieve consistent results and effective infection prevention when it comes to using your handpieces during the treatment of patients.

Below is a checklist of items to include in your dental handpiece cleaning regime:

✓ Handpiece cleaning is essential in the disinfection process. Cleaning may be performed by hand but the preferred method is using a TWD (thermo washer disinfector). A TWD is much safer, as it reduces the risk of sustaining a penetrating injury while cleaning by hand and provides a repeatable and consistent cleaning process. If an instrument isn’t cleaned properly, this may compromise the sterilisation process. Always check first if your handpieces can be cleaned in a TWD.

✓ Due to their lower oil dosing rate, we highly recommend using an automatic handpiece maintenance unit. This will prevent clogging and increase the life of the handpiece.

✓ When cleaning your handpieces, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. NEVER use household detergent or cleaner and NEVER submerge your handpiece in detergent or disinfectant.

✓ Lubricate the handpiece with an appropriate lubricant.

✓If you have oiled the handpiece manually, make sure to clean any excess oil off.

✓ If instructed to do so by the manufacturer, put a blank bur in the chuck while cleaning to prevent contamination and damage to the bearings.

✓ Make sure you always read the suppliers handbook of instructions before cleaning your dental handpieces as the process can vary between manufacturers.

✓ Instruments are then packaged for sterilisation.

✓ Sterilisation should only be performed with a Class B Steriliser that has a properly validated Performance Qualification Certificate.

✓ The autoclave must be loaded as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Incorrect loading will compromise the sterilisation process.

✓ Once the sterilisation process has been successfully completed, the appropriate records must be completed confirming the successful sterilisation of the load.

At Dental Depot, we specialise in the supply, servicing and maintenance of dental equipment and help to ensure that our clients can always provide effective and safe treatment to their patients. For all of your dental equipment needs and advice, get in touch with us today!