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How are dental instruments sterilized?

Dental offices follow specific heat sterilization procedures which are outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association. Disposable items, such as needles and saliva ejectors, cannot be sterilized and are discarded in special containers.

Dental instruments are cleaned and sterilized at very high temperatures after each time they are used on a patient. Recommended sterilization methods include: an autoclave (steam under pressure), a dry heat oven, or chemical vapor (commonly called a chemiclave). The sterilization equipment usually is not in the treatment room, but if you'd like to see how and where it's done, ask the dental staff to show you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.