| FAQ - Instrument Processing - Archived Through 2012
What are the advantages and disadvantages to the use of a dry heat sterilizer in a dental office?
Dry heat sterilization requires a higher temperature (320º - 375º F) than other sterilization processes and therefore may not be suitable for all dental instruments (most notably dental handpieces, which are not manufactured to withstand that sterilization process). The following are some of the advantages and disadvantages(1). Dry heat is effective and safe for sterilization of metal instruments and mirrors; it does not dull cutting edges, and it does not cause rust or corrosion. On the down side, it requires a long cycle for sterilization (except for forced-air, rapid heat transfer sterilizers, at 375º F); has poor penetration; may discolor and char fabric; destroys heat-labile items; cannot be used to sterilize liquids; and is generally unsuitable for handpiece sterilization. Always read and follow the instructions/directions from the manufacturer of the dry heat sterilizer you are using.
(1) Molinari JA, Rosen S, Runnells RR. In Cottone JA, Terezhalmy GT, Molinari JA, eds. Practical Infection Control In Dentistry, 2nd edition. Philadelphia:Williams & Wilkins, 1996