Autoclave use in dental practice in the Republic of Ireland

CM Healy, HPO Kearns, WA Coulter, M Stevenson, Frederick Burke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: To assess by postal questionnaire, cross-infection control methods, especially sterilisation procedures, of 700 general dental practitioners in the Republic of Ireland, and to biologically monitor steam pressure sterilisers or autoclaves in their practices. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Methods of instrument cleaning and sterilisation, autoclave efficacy. RESULTS: A response rate of 40% with all, except one practitioner, using steam sterilisation. 49% also reported the use of chemical sterilisation with a quarter of these using glutaraldehyde. However, instrument soaking time varied greatly from 2.5 minutes to 74 hours. Methods of instrument cleaning prior to autoclaving were as follows: scrubbing by hand 41.5%, ultrasonic cleaning 7.0%, combination of both 50%. 52.9% of the respondents did not autoclave their dental handpieces and only 44.7% disinfected impressions before sending them to the laboratory. The autoclaves of thirty practitioners (11.3%) did not pass the initial biological test. Following counselling about possible causes of failure, four autoclaves (1.5%) failed a repeat biological test. However, seven practitioners did not return the repeat biological test. CONCLUSIONS: Some aspects of recommended cross-infection control procedures are well adhered to, e.g. instrument cleaning, but further education is required in certain key areas, in particular the use of chemical sterilisation, dental handpiece autoclaving and impression disinfection. There is also a need to increase awareness of the importance of routine autoclave servicing and calibration, along with validation and monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-186
Number of pages5
JournalInternational dental journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


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