If you frequent your dentist’s office because you value your dental health as important as your medical well-being, you may have noticed that his clinic has many high-tech-looking machines and equipment. Air compressor, high-end dental chair, UV steriliser, and yes, a dental autoclave. The machines formerly mentioned may easily be explained when asked about their use and function, but what about the autoclave? Why is pressure used in an Autoclave? How does it work and what is it for?
Autoclave: Pressure Steriliser
You may describe an autoclave as a small but heavy-looking machine that resembles a vault, pressure cooker, or microwave oven inside a dental clinic. Truth is, an autoclave is used in medical and laboratory settings to sterilise laboratory equipment, instruments, and waste. Autoclave sterilisation works by using heat to kill microorganisms such as bacteria and spores. Sterilisation involves the absolute destruction of other microorganisms and biological indicators like protosoans, prions, viruses, and fungi that are present in fluids, on surfaces of materials, in medication, or in culture media. Absolute destruction means just that. There is no such thing as “partial sterilisation”. When you sterilise something, it should be complete, otherwise, the procedure is deemed unnecessary and ineffective.
The autoclave delivers heat through pressurised steam. Pressurisation allows the steam to reach the high temperatures required for sterilisation. This simply means that temperature and pressure work hand-in-hand in killing any microorganism that can make any medical or dental instrument unsanitary. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines for Disinfection and Sterilisation of Healthcare Facilities, health workers consider pressurised steam as the most widely used and dependable method of sterilisation. Non-toxic and inexpensive, steam kills microbes and spores rapidly, and it quickly heats and penetrates fabrics. We, at Critical Dental, recognise the fact that medical clinics and dental offices typically use tabletop autoclaves, which are about the size of a microwave oven, while hospitals use much larger units that can sterilise many instruments at once.
How does Steam Sterilisation work?
To work effectively, an autoclave must remove all the air in and around the sterilised object, forcing steam to penetrate its surfaces, according to Healthcare Purchasing News. There are two basic ways that an autoclave can remove the air and force using steam:
Gravity displacement autoclaves. Also called gravity autoclaves, inject steam into the autoclave chamber and then rely on that steam, which is heavier than air, to force the air to leave the chamber through the drain vent at the bottom, according to the CDC.
Pre vacuum or prevac autoclaves. This type uses a vacuum pump to remove air from the chamber before admitting steam to it, which means that steam penetrates even porous objects almost instantly.
Autoclave Temperature and Pressure
So, why is pressure used in an autoclave? And why does an autoclave require high temperatures to work? Let’s put it simply. The heat that an autoclave delivers from steam under pressure kills bacteria and other microorganisms by causing the organisms’ structural proteins and enzymes to lose their shape in an irreversible way, denaturing and coagulating them and making them nonfunctional. Therefore, steam sterilisation is the number one way in conducting ‘deep cleaning and sanitisation of your instruments, tools, and machines.
The most common temperature for autoclave sterilisation is 121°C, but many autoclaves allow cycles at higher temperatures, such as 132°C and 134°C. The temperature and time required to sterilise something depend on material of the instrument, whether wrapped or unwrapped, and the type of the autoclave being used, according to the CDC. To sterilise a large volume of media or materials may require a longer sterilisation cycle to allow the steam heat to penetrate the media fully.
Sterilisation Process: Why do Dentists Need an Autoclave?
As medical professionals and advocates of the welfare of their patients, the spread of infection is a big no-no. As a dentist, dental hygienist, or support staff at a dental clinic, you know that having a reliable, effective autoclave is essential to the smooth operation of the clinic.
And why is pressure used in an autoclave? Also called a steam steriliser, the autoclave is the machine that harnesses the power of high temperature and high-pressure steam in order to sterilise germs on dental equipment, such as forceps, intended for reuse, thus ensuring its safety for the next patient.
Melag Autoclave: Choosing the Right Dental Autoclave
If you’re looking to buy a new autoclave for your dental practice, do you know the questions you must consider as part of this essential purchase? Let us help you plan out your search so you can stay assured that the answers to your questions can lead you up to a well-informed decision, not just for the sake of spending your money wisely, but also for making sure that your patients are safe under your care.
How big should your Autoclave be?
The volume of instruments and materials that you plan to sterilise should dictate the size of the autoclave you would need for your clinic.
Do you recognise the Autoclave Manufacturer?
Knowing the brand name’s reputation and the autoclaves they produced in the market can easily gauge their product’s efficiency and reliability.
Did you Choose the right Distributor or Store?
Are they carrying high-quality dental equipment and machines? Did they ask you about your requirements and preferred brand, suggesting appropriate autoclaves to suit your needs? Did they offer several brands and models for you to choose from, or are they persistent or pushy for you to get the most expensive one? Is the distributor or dental supply store willing to offer discounts, affordable payment schemes, and product warranty?
Is it Within your Budget?
Planning on building a dental practice requires purchasing several essential machines and instruments to ensure that you can cater to your patient’s dental needs efficiently and safely. Planning your finances include setting a budget for specific products, which include autoclaves. Things to look for: What is the warranty? How does service work? Is the sales rep available if you have any questions about using the machine?
Do you Know how to Operate this Product?
You have a busy practice. Can you set the autoclave and come back to find the instruments sterile and completely dry, ready to use, or do you have to constantly monitor the unit? What’s great about Critical Dental is that we don’t just sell machines and let the buyer take it from there. We have dedicated aftersales representatives to support and extend a hand in making sure that our products maintain the same sense of quality and efficiency. Even before your purchase, our experienced sales team can show you how to operate and manage our product, so using them in your dental office becomes easy-breezy.
Interested in choosing a reliable autoclave for your dental practice? Do not hesitate to give us a call so we can assist and guide you into getting the appropriate machine for your office’s needs. Moreover, if you think you need an upgrade to the advanced MELAG system, contact Critical Dental at (02) 8880 7813 or visit our website to know more.