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One of the key things that dentists and hygienists must learn in their training is how to effectively sterilize office equipment and surfaces in order to control for infection.

Not only is it imperative that all staff understand these processes for optimal patient care, they also have to make sure that processes are efficient and that equipment is maintained as they proceed with teeth cleaning and other procedures.

Here are the ways that dentists keep their equipment fully and completely sterilized for your safety.

Sterilization Areas

All dentists should have special areas that are separate from the regular treatment areas that are designated for equipment cleaning and sterilization. Having a separate area is the best way to guarantee that no contamination takes place between instruments. This is also where dentists dispose of special surgical tools.

Ultrasonic Cleaners

Ultrasonic cleaners are state-of-the-art devices that actually use sound to clean. It’s better than direct scrubbing because it reduces the chance of damaging delicate equipment.

Ultrasonic cleaning is used for almost all equipment. These are cleaned in specialty solutions and never with regular household products, which can damage the cleaners. They are placed in special instruments for a specific period of time and covered with a lid to avoid any contamination.


An autoclave is only one example of the type of high-powered sterilization equipment that is regularly used. Autoclaves are chambers that essentially blast equipment with extremely hot, pressurized steam to kill microorganisms. Typically instruments are cleaned in specific cycles and are left in the autoclave for long periods of time to ensure that they are thoroughly disinfected.


You’ve probably seen dentists pull equipment out of cupboards that is wrapped in plastic. After equipment is sterilized, it’s imperative that it arrives to the patient without any risk of contamination. That’s why dentists use paper, plastic and other types of packaging to help keep instruments safe while they’re sitting on the shelf. Packaging not only keeps equipment safe, it can also be a useful organizational tool.

Sometimes dentists use monitoring tools (tools that test for bacteria and other microorganisms) to check instruments before use as well.

If you are getting your teeth cleaned at a new dentist and are wondering about their sterilization techniques, ask your dentist for an “autoclave validation,” which is a report from the autoclave company that proves that the dentist is using it properly and regularly.

These are only a few examples of the ways that dentists today take extra care to prevent infection. When you are booking your next teeth cleaning in Lowell, don’t be shy about asking your dentist about their sterilization and cleaning techniques.

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