Loading. Please wait...
Prolonging the lifetime of essential decontamination equipment

Most Recent

7th Sep 2021 in Dental, Animal Health, Healthcare
30th Jan 2022 in Dental, Animal Health, Healthcare
21st Feb 2022 in Animal Health, Dental, Healthcare

Prolonging the lifetime of essential decontamination equipment

5th May 2024 in Dental, Animal Health, Healthcare

High-quality decontamination equipment, including autoclaves, is essential for all dental practices to optimise their health and safety standards. Maximising the longevity of this equipment by keeping it running smoothly affords a number of benefits – efficient daily routines, uninterrupted staff workflows and optimised patient care. The practice also benefits financially with reduced need for equipment repairs and replacements. Both in-house protocols by practice staff and professional servicing support are essential.

Handpiece oiling

One of the most common reasons for the malfunction of autoclaves is the result of handpiece oil. Lubricant can be expelled from the handpiece during the sterilisation process within the autoclave, which may build-up in the chamber and associated parts, and potentially damage the equipment or cause it to function ineffectively. To prevent issues, it is important that the dental team follow the handpiece manufacturer’s care instructions carefully, removing excess oil before sterilisation. This will also help to prolong the life of the handpieces themselves.

Water quality

Another aspect that has a major impact on the effectiveness of your autoclave is the water it uses. Approximately 60% of the UK has hard water,[i] which means that the tap water contains a high concentration of minerals like calcium and magnesium.[ii] When the water evaporates, it deposits substances like calcium carbonate, which is more commonly known as limescale.

Just as it can mark taps, sinks and other appliances, limescale reduces the efficacy of your autoclave as well. If allowed to build up in the equipment, it can stop the autoclave from working properly and lead to malfunctions or breakdowns – which will cost you in time and money. This is why it is so important to use a different water source. Reverse osmosis (RO) systems offer a highly effective alternative for dental practices in that they deliver water free from minerals and microorganisms to your autoclave. They are reliable, cost-effective and create less plastic waste than using bottled water, all the while protecting your autoclave from internal damage.

Everyday maintenance

There are various steps that the dental team can take on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to ensure their autoclave is effectively maintained. For example, ensuring that reusable instruments are effectively cleaned before sterilisation can prevent dirt and debris from entering the autoclave and risking damage. Manual cleaning is acceptable, although HTM 01-05 best practice guidelines[iii] recommend, and SDCEP mandates[iv], using a washer disinfector, as this provides a validated and automated cleaning process prior to sterilisation.

It is equally as important to load the autoclave correctly. Overloading trays or poorly positioned instruments, for instance, can compromise sterilisation.

With regards to the equipment itself, door seals, chamber faces, gaskets and filters should all be regularly checked and cleaned. In doing this regularly, the dental team can avoid the build-up of oil, dust, dirt and other particles, which could otherwise stop the equipment from running efficiently.

Testing, validation and certification  

Regular testing is crucial to make sure that autoclaves continue to operate effectively and efficiently. For example, a daily automatic control test with the correct Helix test is a process challenge device that proves the vacuum cycle has performed correctly. The same equipment will require weekly air leakage tests to ensure there are no pump malfunctions or air leaks in the door seal or pipe fittings.

Frequent maintenance and servicing are essential for all autoclaves and should follow manufacturers’ instructions – protecting the equipment from breakdown, optimising patient and staff safety, and ensuring compliance with the regulations.iii The same document also recommends validation testing at the time of installation and thereafter on a daily, weekly, quarterly and annual basis to ensure that the equipment continues to operate effectively.

All of this means that appropriate practice staff must receive adequate training and support to ensure that they can competently and confidently carry out the necessary checks, testing and maintenance for their decontamination equipment. The annual examination as required by the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations (PSSR) must be completed and provided by an appropriately trained engineer. Members of the dental team must have up-to-date and effective CPD training to be able to fill such a role.

Trusted support

Whether you have questions about how to prolong the life of your autoclave and WD, or you need technical support and testing that you can depend on, Eschmann is a decontamination expert. The comprehensive Care & Cover servicing and maintenance package provides everything from Annual Validation and Pressure Vessel Certification (PSSR) to annual service and software upgrades, unlimited breakdown cover, unlimited Eschmann parts and labour, and Enhanced CPD user training. Maxine Northall-Rollins from Scott Arms Dental Practice, said:

“We have had some of our Little Sister autoclaves for well over 10 years… protected with the Eschmann Care & Cover servicing and maintenance package. It’s good to have the back-up, knowing that someone will find and fix any small issues before they become bigger problems. All the engineers that visit have been absolutely brilliant, too. I would unreservedly recommend Eschmann products and the Care & Cover service package to others.”

For more information on the highly effective and affordable range of infection control products from Eschmann, please click here or contact us.