Infectious diseases still account for the bulk of total morbidity and a significant percentage of total mortality rates in the world.
The spreading of an infection in any clinic and how it is controlled ,are crucial parameters for the protection of Public Health.
By sterilization ,we mean the natural or chemical destruction or complete removal of any living organism, including spores.
An object is considered sterile only when it has undergone the process of sterilization and then packaged so as not to be contaminated.
It should be emphasized that for the prevention of infections in the dental clinic,sterilization of tools alone isn’t enough. Combination of measures are needed to minimize transmission of infections either directly or indirectly.
By direct transmission, we mean the one occuring from the patient to the dentist and the auxiliary staff or vice versa, either by direct contact with blood, saliva or mucosal and skin lesions or even airborne contamination. Indirect,is the transmission occuring from patient to patient, either through contaminated surfaces and instruments or via the dental unit water supply.
The use of gloves is considered the most powerful preventive measure against infections. The use of masks in any dental treatment is needed and should be changed after each patient as the outer surface is contaminated quickly.
The protective glasses complement the use of masks and help avoid injuries to the eye area. The medical scrubs, proper hand washing before and after treatment, additional measures in special patient groups as well as disinfection of the room surfaces add to the preventive measures.
A very brief reference to various sterilization methods follows:
1) Sterilisation with boiling water.
In water at 100 C for thirty minutes ,we can sterilize various instruments.
2) Sterilisation with boiling oil.
In boiling oil at 150-200 C for thirty minutes ,we can sterilize various instruments.
At 120 C, under specific atmospheric pressure for twenty minutes , we sterilize most if not all of the instruments used in a modern dental practice.
4) Fractional sterilization.
It is a method suitable for instruments that are not resistant to high temperatures.
5) Sterilization with fire.
It is one of the most trusted methods and dangerous simultaneously.
6) Hot air sterilization.
Sterilizing instruments at 160-180 C for about two hours.
7) Radiation γ.
We use gamma radiation to sterilize an entire area. It destroys viruses, bacteria, fungi, and is usually combined with other methods for best results.