The autoclave is a device used to sterilise reusable medical or dental tools. We distinguish three classes of autoclaves: N, S and B. How do they differ from each other, what is their purpose, and what autoclave should you choose to suit the type of services your clinic provides? Here is some information that may help you select your clinic partner in steam sterilization.
Autoclave Classes: Types of Autoclaves
Autoclaves are a critical part of effective infection control in the dental office, with many autoclaves to choose from. If you are replacing an existing autoclave, and your needs are unchanged, you may be happy to purchase the same or a similar one. Whether you are looking to purchase your next autoclave, an additional autoclave, or your first autoclave, there are several considerations.
Class N. A class N autoclave is the lowest class device. This type can be used only as an auxiliary unit. The sterilization process of this class is different since it does not have a vacuum pump (which is present in higher class autoclaves), so you can only sterilise instruments with a solid structure within this device. It is also not possible to sterilise hollow-body instruments or sterilise items in packages. Class N sterilisers also do not have an effective drying option, unlike more advanced autoclaves.
Class S. Class S autoclaves are a cut between Class N and B autoclaves. Class S allows the sterilisation of single-packed, multilayer packed and more massive instruments, which you cannot sterilise in class N autoclaves. Autoclaves of this class have a vacuum pump, making it possible to remove the air from the chamber altogether before starting the sterilization process. However, only a single-stage pre-vacuum is used here; it is less effective than the vacuum used in class B autoclaves.
Class B. A class B autoclave is the most advanced autoclave type. These are what hospitals, medical centres, and dental clinics use for their instruments. They also meet all the sanitary-epidemiological requirements. They can sterilise all types of batches, even the most complex ones. Thanks to fractionated pre-vacuum, the Class B autoclave completely removes air from the chamber. It is considered the most effective and modern sterilisation technique of all types of tools.
The Volume and Instrument Types
Do you have 5 to 10 dental chairs in your practice? That would entail a higher volume of tools to be sterilised. Consider the instruments being sterilised. How many items will you use per day, and how often will they be needed? What types of tools? How many handpieces do you use daily? Do you have any instruments you are keeping or purchasing that require a dedicated cycle?
Chamber Size and Load Capacity
For small steam sterilizers used in the dental clinic, the chamber size can be 60 litres. The internal dimensions of the cylinder itself and the configuration of trays and racks within it also vary, influencing the loads that can be accommodated. A chamber large enough and configured to accommodate the unwrapped or wrapped instruments you need but not excessive is ideal. Consider whether two smaller or one large autoclave would be best.
What’s the sense of getting a large autoclave if you only have very few medical and laboratory instruments and tools. Designating and designing a space in advance can help to improve future performance and efficiency. The autoclave must fit in the designated area in the reprocessing room, still allowing for set-down areas.
Manual or Automatic
Manual autoclaves require time to be spent on effortlessly performed tasks with automated autoclaves. For example, pre-programmed cycles remove the need to set sterilisation parameters. Other examples include:
- Automated door-locking and release.
- A water-fill function.
- Digital documentation for the sterilisation log.
Nonetheless, manual autoclaves can be simple to use and are less expensive. Choose an autoclave type that could help make your practice convenient and hassle-free for you.
Sterilisation Cycle and Time Logs
Autoclaves with digital output for record-keeping save time and provide reliable records of autoclave performance and cycles for each load for inclusion in the sterilisation log. This is helpful in meeting requirements and the best discipline for medical and dental practices.
Ensure you know how much maintenance your autoclave will require, including replacing consumables (gaskets, filters, integrated water tank, etc.) Be clear on the warranty – the longer and more comprehensive, the better. Consider the reputation, expertise and quality of customer support from the autoclave company and how quickly technical support would be available.
Considering costs is inevitable and important. Are there additional installation costs? Are accessories included in the price? Assess initial and all ongoing costs (future maintenance, technical support, and replacement parts.) Smaller autoclaves are generally less expensive than larger autoclaves of the same quality – potentially another reason to consider a smaller autoclave initially and an additional one later for increased capacity.
As any sterilising instrument manufacturer would say, ‘one size does not fit all’ when it comes to autoclaves. There are many brands and models to choose from, so careful consideration and planning are invaluable. The distributor or local office for the autoclaves you are interested in can help you determine the best fit for you and your dental practice. Investing time in these steps can help you make the right investment when choosing a new autoclave for your dental office.
Melag Autoclave: Choose a Trusted Supplier
We have over 19 years of experience and history in the dental industry and have worked hard to build relationships with the best suppliers of dental instruments and supplies. That’s why we can offer you Melag premium class autoclaves and autoclave supplies at one of the lowest prices you’ll find online. We’re dedicated to making your life and your business runs more effectively, which is why we now offer a range of sterilisers that will suit all sizes of medical and dental businesses. Contact us at (02) 8880 7813 today!