There are two important things to do in a dental office in order to prevent cross infection. These two forms are sterilization and disinfection. According to the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration before either of these forms can be used you have to clean the instruments. This can be done either by hand or by using an ultrasonic cleaner.
Even though both sterilization and disinfection are both important there is a big difference between the two. Sterilization is the process of killing all microorganisms. Where disinfection is the process of destroying pathogenic organisms or rendering them inert. The centers for disease control says there is one cardinal rule for infection
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The EPA decides what chemicals are disinfectants. In the dental field only products that are registered with the EPA as hospital disinfectants that include tuberculocidal, which kills the organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis, should be used. Just like sterilization there are many types of disinfectants, I am only going to talk about four. The ideal disinfectant should be one that kills pathogenic organisms, is odorless, gentle to dental equipment, nontoxic, and economical to use. Sadly there is no such disinfectant on the market, so you must make informed choices. The first disinfectant is Iodophors. This is EPA registered and an intermediate - level hospital disinfectant which also includes tuberculocidal action. For surfaces that have been soiled with potentially infectious material iodophors are recommended to disinfect. As long as you use this product according to the manufacturers instructions, iodophors are effective with in 5 to 10 minutes. In order for iodophors to work properly you need to mix it with soft or distilled water. A down fall to iodophors is that they may corrode or discolor certain metals or temporarily cause stains on clothing. The second is one that can also be used as a sterilant. This product is glutaraldehyde. They way this can be used as a disinfectant is to use for more than 10 minutes but less than 10 hours. Just like any other chemical make sure you read the