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Slow-Speed Handpiece Asepsis

A Practitioner's Overview

 

 Learning Objectives:

After hearing this podcast, the listener should:

  • Understand the proper CDC guidelines for slow-speed handpieces and related instrumentation
  • Recognize the inherent cleaning processes required for slow-speed handpieces

Dental professionals—particularly dental hygienists supporting the practice—often possess only one ergonomically designed handpiece, making it virtually impossible to sterilize between each patient. They may even believe that heat sterilization is unnecessary or not recommended. There are, in fact, three reasons why slow-speed handpieces should be sterilized after each use, and these should be reviewed among the dentist and auxiliaries to ensure proper infection control procedures are followed daily. The first is to follow CDC infection control guidelines, the second is for optimal asepsis, and the third is to get the best performance and life out of the motors.

 

The CDC Recommendations for dental handpieces are as follows:

  1. Clean and heat sterilize handpieces between each patient.
  2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, lubricating, and sterilizing handpieces.
  3.  Do not surface-disinfect; instead use liquid chemical sterilants or ethylene oxide on handpieces.

Related Reading:

  1. Centers for Disease Control, Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health Care Settings – 2003, 36-37, 56. www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/infectioncontrol/guidelines/index.htm. Accessed 7-27-2011
  2. National Dental Handpiece Repair Association Guideline for Handpiece Maintenance.www.handpieceinfo.com Accessed 7-27-2011.
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