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FAQ - Instrument Processing - 2014
 FAQ - Instrument Processing -  2014



What is the protocol for sterilizing cavitron tips? Should the tips be submerge into enzymatic solution or wiped off before sterilization?

It should be noted that the 2003 CDC guidelines for infection control in dentistry states the following:

Sterilization and Disinfection of Patient-Care Items
Patient-care items (dental instruments, devices, and equipment) are categorized as critical, semicritical, or noncritical, depending on the potential risk for infection associated with their intended use (Table 4) (242). Critical items used to penetrate soft tissue or bone have the greatest risk of transmitting infection and should be sterilized by heat. Semicritical items touch mucous membranes or nonintact skin and have a lower risk of transmission; because the majority of semicritical items in dentistry are heat-tolerant, they also should be sterilized by using heat. If a semicritical item is heat-sensitive, it should, at a minimum, be processed with high-level disinfection (2).

Noncritical patient-care items pose the least risk of transmission of infection, contacting only intact skin, which can serve as an effective barrier to microorganisms. In the majority of cases, cleaning, or if visibly soiled, cleaning followed by disinfection with an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant is adequate. When the item is visibly contaminated with blood or OPIM, an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant with a tuberculocidal claim (i.e., intermediate-level disinfectant) should be used (2,243,244). Cleaning or disinfection of certain noncritical patient-care items can be difficult or damage the surfaces; therefore, use of disposable barrier protection of these surfaces might be a preferred alternative. 1

Since the ultrasonic scaler tip (i.e., cavitron tip) is a dental patient-care item that is used intraorally, then it should be heat sterilized between patients.

It is recommended that you contact the manufacturer of the ultrasonic scaler tip for further information on the use, handling and maintenance of the product. The manufacturer can provide more information specific to instrument processing and sterilization procedures for their product. Failure to comply with manufacturer’s approved written instructions for use (IFU), handling and maintenance of the product can potentially void the product warranty. Ask OSAP does not provide technical support for specific products.

You may also find the articles below to be of interest:

Proper Cleaning of Insert Tips for the Cavitron Ultrasonic Scaler  2

What to expect from an insert is the hallmark of a skilled ultrasonic clinician  3


1)     Kohn WG, Collins AS, Cleveland JL, Harte JA, Eklund KJ, Malvitz DM, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Guidelines for infection control in dental health-care settings—2003. MMWR Recomm Rep 2003;52(RR-17):1-61.   Accessed on June 10, 2014.

2)     USAF Dental Evaluation & Consultation Service. Proper Cleaning of Insert Tips for the Cavitron Ultrasonic Scaler.  Accessed in June 10, 2014.

3)     RDH Magazine. Understanding power scaling inserts and tips.  Accessed on June 10, 2014. 




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