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Behind the Scene at Hearts Dental – Infection Control

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a dental clinic? How did the instruments the dentist uses in your mouth become sterilised, how do we know it is safe to use for your treatment? Today we will introduce the disinfection facilities and disinfection processes at Hearts Dental.

What does infection control mean to us?

Every industry has its standards and policies, and dentistry is no different. Our profession first and foremost should act to protect the public, that is, our patients. Under the National Law, we must make sure our practice meets the infection control Guidelines, and continue to maintain and update our knowledge throughout our careers in this field.

What does infection control mean to our patients?

Everything that comes into contact with a person carries a risk of spreading infectious matters. It could be through blood, saliva, body fluids or aerosols. To protect our patients and staff, we need to make sure all dental instruments are thoroughly sterilised whenever possible. Whenever impossible to sterilize, we use disposable one-use-only products. Our patients should feel safe because of the amount of efforts we put into our sterilisation process. Not only can patients trust our dental skills, but it is also important for patients to know that we are doing everything we can to keep you and your family safe and healthy when visiting the dentist!

So what is done to the instruments to make sure it is sterile?

Every instrument gets the following 5-stage spa treatment:

1 – take a soak bath in disinfection liquids for 5 minutes
2 – get some personalised attention and scrubbed of any dirt
3 – take a second buzzing bath in the ultrasonic cleaner for 15 minutes
4 – get padded dry, and individually packed in sealed bags
5 – go into a big oven (dental autoclave) to cook at 135 degrees for 50 minutes

How do you know if the instruments are indeed sterilized?

When the instruments come out of the autoclave freshly baked, we check the colour-changing indicator label on the package to make sure that sterilisation indeed took place and is compliant with the requirement. Every run is recorded manually and verified electronically in our daily records, and we even do “pretend run” every morning called “helix test” and “Bowie Dick test” to make sure the machine is indeed working like we wanted it to be.

So what happens if the steriliser breaks down? Is there any other way to disinfect the equipment?

We cancel all our patients that day and go home early! Haha, just joking!
Seriously though, the autoclave is like the engine of a car – if it stops working one day, we might as well hang up our boots! We simply cannot use unsterilised instruments on patients. In the case of machine breakdown, we call our autoclave technician on our speedial, and they come to the rescue within hours and bring a back up machine, much like RACV Roadside Assist. But yes it is stressful!