Dental Handpieces and Other Devices Attached to Air and Waterlines
How should dental handpieces and other devices attached to air and waterlines be reprocessed between patients?
Handpieces and other intraoral instruments that can be removed from the air and waterlines of dental units are considered semicritical devices. In addition, studies show that the internal portions of high-speed handpieces and low-speed handpiece motors can become contaminated and that it is possible for retained patient material to be released into the mouths of subsequent patients. Therefore, handpieces and other intraoral instruments should be removed from the air and waterlines of dental units, cleaned, and heat-sterilized between patients. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, lubrication, and sterilization. Do not surface-disinfect, submerge in liquid chemical sterilants, or barrier-protect these instruments because these methods cannot adequately clean, disinfect, or sterilize the internal components.
These instruments include, but are not limited to, high-speed, low-speed, electric, endodontic, and surgical handpieces, as well as all handpiece motors and attachments such as reusable prophylaxis angles, nosecones, and contra-angles.
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- Page last reviewed: March 25, 2016
- Page last updated: March 25, 2016
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