In health care, dentistry has long been at the forefront of the development of new products and procedures that reduce the potential for disease transmission. Much of this is achieved through sterilization. Sterilization is the destruction of all living micro-organisms, including spores (reproductive bodies) of the hardiest bacteria and fungi.
Many of the instruments used in dentistry need to be sterilized. The instruments that contact teeth in drilling and polishing are either sterilized or discarded between patients. All dental offices have extra sets of instruments which allows for proper sterilization time.
We are now using an autolclaving machine, a dental sterilizer that processes instruments faster and more effectively than ever before. In autoclaving, instruments (which are first cleaned, dried, and placed in a special steam-penetrable wrap), are subjected to pressurized steam for 15 to 20 minutes. The instruments are then left in their protective packaging until they are needed.