| FAQ - Waste Treatment & Disposal - Archived Through 2012
What are the most current infection control recommendations for handling extracted specimen teeth in dental educational lab settings?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) addressed this issue in Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings, 2003.(1) They state the following: "Extracted teeth that are being discarded are subject to the containerization and labeling provisions outlined by OSHA's bloodborne pathogens standard. OSHA considers extracted teeth to be potentially infectious material that should be disposed in medical waste containers. Extracted teeth sent to a dental laboratory for shade or size comparisons should be cleaned, surface-disinfected with an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant with intermediate-level activity (i.e., tuberculocidal claim), and transported in a manner consistent with OSHA regulations. However, extracted teeth can be returned to patients on request, at which time provisions of the standard no longer apply. Extracted teeth containing dental amalgam should not be placed in a medical waste container that uses incineration for final disposal. Commercial metal-recycling companies also might accept extracted teeth with metal restorations, including amalgam. State and local regulations should be consulted regarding disposal of the amalgam."
Additionally, extracted teeth should be cleaned and then decontaminated with a suitable disinfecting or preserving agent.(1,2) Extracted teeth without amalgam fillings may be autoclaved. (Teeth containing amalgam should never be heat sterilized because the high temperatures of the sterilization cycle can release mercury vapor.)(2,3). Extracted teeth may be given to the patient or may be used in an educational setting once proper decontamination procedures have been conducted.
1) CDC. Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings --- 2003. December 19, 2003 MMWR 52(RR17);1-61http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5217a1.htm
2) Tate WH, White RR. Disinfection of human teeth for educational purposes. J Dent Educ 1991;54(5):583-5.
3) Cuny E, Carpenter W. Extracted teeth: decontamination, disposal and use. CDA J 1997;25(11):801-4.