Is your decontamination equipment letting the side down? Kate Scheer

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  Posted by: Dental Design      2nd March 2018

There’s a saying that ‘teamwork makes the dream work’, and in the dental practice this couldn’t be truer. From delivering quality patient care to meeting the necessary requirements expected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the success of any dental practice always boils down to synergistic practices and functioning collaboration. If workflow isn’t harmonious this will always have an affect on the output of the practice – you’re only as strong as your weakest link, after all!

Importantly, this applies to your decontamination equipment too. Your practice’s infection prevention and control procedures might be faultless, but if your equipment is substandard or not operating to its fullest potential you’re wasting your time, because the success of the cleaning, disinfection and sterilisation processes will always dictate your compliance. So what can be done to make sure that your decontamination equipment doesn’t let your practice down? Ultimately, it all boils down to the choices that you make and the equipment that you choose. Only by making an informed decision and investing in quality, reliable products will you be able to ensure consistent sterility and provide a safe, compliant environment for both patients and staff.

The first step on the pathway to decontamination success is to consider the type of equipment that you’re using. There are so many different types that it can be hard to keep up, but HTM 01-05 provides detailed recommendations on the most effective methods so it is always worth reviewing regularly. As it stands, the use of a thermo washer disinfector is regarded as best practice for disinfection before sterilisation, as the technology ensures a reproducible, validated, medically effective washing process that will always guarantee the optimal removal of harmful proteins and decontaminants.

All accredited washer disinfectors are manufactured for purpose and use very high water flow rates at high pressure to clean and disinfect instruments thoroughly. As with any product you purchase, however, you must always stay mindful of medical standards and recommendations to ensure that the solution you choose can reprocess to the standard you require.

There’s also your steriliser to think of. Now, as you know saturated steam under pressure delivered at a high temperature is the recommended method for the sterilisation of most instruments in the dental setting, but there are three types of steam sterilisers available so it’s important to weigh up your options. Choosing the wrong one could risk inadequate decontamination, letting your whole practice down. The first is Type N, a non-vacuum steriliser designed for non-wrapped solid instruments and there’s two vacuum autoclaves – Type B, which can reprocess load types such as hollow, air-retentive and packaged loads, and Type S, which is only compatible with specific load types from certain manufacturers.

While all may seem acceptable on the surface, instruments sterilised in a non-vacuum autoclave cannot be pre-wrapped, which goes against best practice recommendations by the Department of Health, nor can they effectively sterilise handpieces and other lumened instruments so it is best to avoid these. Of the vacuum sterilisers, Type B is generally considered to be the better of the two as any kind of load can be sterilised, including porous materials and hollow items.


Of course, there are other factors to consider too when purchasing an autoclave, so to ensure you find the right one here are the sorts of questions you need to be asking.


  1. What is the cycle time?

The speed at which the autoclave runs is very important, as a slow cycle will have a knock on effect on the overall efficiency of your infection prevention and control. For best results, try a speedy yet efficient steriliser.

  1. What is the load size?

The volume of items that you tend to reprocess on a day-to-day basis will inevitably determine the size – and therefore make – of autoclave, as there are a number of different chamber sizes available.

  1. Is the autoclave easy to operate?

You’re busy enough as it is without having to waste time on complicated settings. Opt for an intuitive design with an easy to use interface that will help you to save time and maximise efficiency.

  1. Is it from a reliable manufacturer?

There’s a lot that can be said about choosing a reliable and distinguished manufacturer with years of experience behind them so take care to seek advice from a company with a stellar reputation.


Choosing a company like W&H that offers a comprehensive, turnkey service alongside complete solutions will ensure standards are maintained and compliance is achieved. As well as products like the ThermoKlenz washer disinfector and new Assistina TWIN handpiece care and maintenance device, W&H manufactures the market-leading Lisa steriliser. Lisa is a high-performance and easy to use autoclave with a B cycle of just 30 minutes for a load of 2kg, full traceability and Real Time Remote Monitoring.

You need to know that you won’t be let down by your decontamination equipment, or the service you are offered, but with high-quality solutions from a reliable manufacturer you can rest assured that your practice will remain fully compliant.


To find out more visit, call 01727 874990 or email



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