At Cowichan Valley Dental your safety is of the utmost importance to us. That is why we follow the guidelines of infection control as set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are three classifications of instruments for different sterilization protocols- Critical, Semi-Critical, and Non-Critical.
If you are not familiar with these protocols, it may seem that with the Semi- and Non-Critical classifications, sterilization is not as important, but that is FAR from the case. What separates these classifications is not whether or not you should sterilize them (because we must sterilize them all), but with what the particular instrument comes in contact with.
For example, when it comes to disease transmission, you are probably aware that coming into contact with someone else’s blood carries a much greater risk of disease than touching their skin. This same kind of principle applies to the tools we use, and that’s why, depending on what substances the instrument comes into contact with, there are three classifications of varying sterilization requirements.
Critical: instruments that penetrate soft tissue/bone or contact the bloodstream. These instruments are sterilized after each use either by use of steam under pressure, dry heat, chemical vapor or cold soak (for items that cannot withstand high temperatures).
Semi-Critical: instruments in contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin. These items again should be sterilized, or if this is not feasible, go through high-level disinfection.
Non-Critical: Items that come in contact with intact-skin. An intermediate-level disinfectant should be used.
Instruments are first run through a precleaning enzymatic solution in an ultrasonic machine. They are then dried and then wrapped/bagged to be processed through the sterilizer machine.
Items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned or sterilized are discarded and a new one used for each patient.
Our sterilizers are checked weekly by biological monitors to ensure successful cycles are being performed. The wraps and sterilization bags are equipped with chemical indicators that sterilization was completed.