Slow-Speed Handpiece Asepsis
A Practitioner's Overview
Nancy Andrews, RDH, BS
After hearing this podcast, the listener should:
the proper CDC guidelines for slow-speed handpieces and related
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:
- Clean and heat sterilize handpieces between each
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning,
lubricating, and sterilizing handpieces.
- Do not
surface-disinfect; instead use liquid chemical sterilants or ethylene oxide on
for Disease Control, Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health
Care Settings – 2003, 36-37, 56. www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/infectioncontrol/guidelines/index.htm.
Dental Handpiece Repair Association Guideline for Handpiece Maintenance.www.handpieceinfo.com Accessed