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Practice Safety/Patient Safety Archived Through 2012
 FAQ - Practice Safety/Patient Safety - Archived Through 2012

 

 

In the Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Settings -- 2003 page 33 -- It is recommended that teeth be heat-sterilized to allow safe handling. And for extracted teeth containing amalgam to be immersed in 10% formalin solution for 2 weeks stating that should be effective in disinfecting both the internal and external structures of the teeth. Would it be considered acceptable to immersed all extracted teeth in 10% Formalin for 2 weeks as opposed to handling extracted teeth in 2 manners? There has been discussion that sterilized teeth are compromised during the heat sterilized process. Please advise me accordingly. I am still quite new in my job and read allot but many situations come my way in which I could use extra guidance.

Because formalin is a hazardous chemical, the CDC Guidelines only recommend using it for teeth that contain amalgam restorations.

The authors of From Policy to Practice: OSAP's Guide to the Guidelines also state that teeth that do not contain amalgam restorations used in educational settings should be heat-sterilized. (1)

Also, the authors of From Policy to Practice: OSAP's Guide to the Guidelines suggest consulting the manufacturer-supplied Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on formalin for information on hazards, precautions, and disposal. (1)

Formalin is the only liquid germicide shown to be effective in disinfecting both the interior and exterior of extracted teeth with amalgam, making them safe for use in educational settings. Liquid chemical germicides such as glutaraldehyde and diluted bleach (sodium hypochlorite) only disinfect the exteriors of extracted teeth, not the interior pulp tissue. (1)

When using the teeth in preclinical exercises, students should apply standard precautions, even though the extracted teeth have been made safe for handling. Applying standard precautions will more accurately simulate the clinical experience. (1)

The authors of Infection Control & Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team also state that the easiest and most effective procedure is sterilization by heat. Steam autoclaving is the method of choice. However, published information indicates that an unsaturated chemical vapor sterilizer is effective in neutralizing pathologic waste. (2)

Resources:

1) From Policy to Practice: OSAP's Guide to the Guidelines. Copyright 2004 by OSAP.

2) Infection Control & Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, 3rd. edition. by

Miller & Palenik. Elsevier/Mosby Publishers. Copyright 2005.

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