Make room for cleanliness and compliance – Kate Scheer

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  Posted by: Dental Design      16th November 2018

All dental professionals have a duty of care to provide a safe clinical environment from which to carry out quality dentistry. Clinicians that do not follow a stringent cross-infection regime, in accordance with HTM 01-05 regulations, risk exposing themselves and their patients to harmful microorganisms that could prove life threatening. One of the most basic requirements of this process involves decontaminating instruments and equipment in a designated area in the practice away from sections where clinical activity takes place. There are some key factors to consider when setting up this fully compliant decontamination area.


Decontamination is a one-way process that should be carried out by ensuring a dirty-to-clean workflow, either through a practice layout that involves temporal separation or physical segregation.

  • Temporal:This is the method of separating “decontamination activities” from “patient consultation” within the treatment room at different times. If instruments are cleaned and sterilized within the same room that patients are treated in then the reprocessing area should be as far from the dental chair as practicality allows. The room would require a dedicated sink or two, regular disinfection of surfaces, as well as adequate ventilation or air extraction. However, such an approach should ideally be a temporary measure before a planned move to set up a dedicated decontamination facility within the practice. Removing the decontamination process from the treatment room should be a priority for practices as they progress towards higher standards.
  • Physical:The provision of two rooms is the preferred layout option as it provides greater separation between dirty instruments awaiting decontamination and clean, sterile instruments that are to be placed in trays, packs or containers for use. The arrangement of a double room – or at the very least, two very distinct and specified areas – is recommended in order to minimise cross contamination during sterilization. Ideally, there should be one room for dirty activities (cleaning and preliminary inspection of instruments) and one room for clean activity (final examinations, sterilization and wrapping of instruments), so as to reduce the risk and extent of recontamination, as well as provide a very clear operation distinction between what is clean and what is dirty.


A decontamination room should comprise of single-run, smooth-surface worktops made of non-porous, stain and heat resistant materials such as artificial stone, granite, stainless steel or laminate. Outfitting the room with impermeable, non-slip flooring will go one step further in facilitating efficient cleaning. All surfaces should be free from cracks to prevent the accumulation of dirt or moisture.

It is also important to understand that a tidy working environment makes cleaning a much more streamlined process. As such, the decontamination room should have sufficient storage space in order to ensure surfaces are clutter free. Cabinets can be used to store sterilized packages, barcode scanners, logbooks, cleaning agents and sealing bags. Practices can install cabinet doors and drawers designed with push-to-release mechanisms, thereby avoiding the necessity of handles and further helping to maintain a more hygienic environment.  

Having well-lit, sufficient worktop space with a dedicated cooling area for sterile items awaiting storage is also an essential part of maintaining an efficient workflow. When trays of instruments are removed from the sterilizer, they should be placed onto cooling racks in order to avoid moisture condensation, which, as practitioners know, is a prime breeding ground for bacteria. Bearing this in mind, it is crucial not to overlook surfaces such as windows, vents and sinks, which are frequently exposed to splashes and aerosol dispersion.


Installing the right equipment within your designated decontamination area is a vital part of meeting all necessary HTM 01-05 guidelines. Choosing the most appropriate solutions does not have to be a headache either and can, in fact, improve productivity in the practice. High performance, consistency and cost-efficiency of ongoing equipment maintenance should be at the top of every practitioner’s agenda.

The key is to seek out complete solutions from well-known, trusted manufacturers who have an extensive catalogue of technologies to suit your professional needs. Companies like W&H, for example, can assist in outfitting your decontamination room with reliable equipment such as the Lisa type B vacuum sterilizer, the Assistina TWIN handpiece reprocessing device and the ThermoKlenz washer disinfector. Innovative systems like these can improve the efficacy of decontamination in your practice, whilst ensuring you remain fully compliant in safeguarding patients and staff against infection.

Upgrading your decontamination room to help streamline your workflow can be challenging, especially as there are various different elements to consider as part of adhering to Best Practice standards outlined by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). That is why clinicians should choose products from a trusted company such as W&H, who will help ensure you meet all current requirements including offering the correct traceability, validation, training, connectivity, testing, and monitoring options to ensure maximum efficiency. This top quality service will be delivered by W&H’s factory-trained specialist engineers. Ultimately, investing in high quality decontamination facilities can help you and your team maintain a clean, compliant and productive practice that is optimised to meet the demands of modern dentistry.


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