Over time, you have learned the ins and outs of your dental office, but how efficient are you at making sure your dental equipment is working properly? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to your daily routines.
- KEEP IT CLEAN. Dirt, dust, and debris can wreak havoc on dental equipment. Change your filters (see Practice Tip #60) regularly, remove dirt, soil, and debris from surfaces. For infection control (see Practice Tip #76), use barriers instead of disinfectants when possible. Harsh disinfectants can damage equipment long term.
- STERILIZE WHEN POSSIBLE. On a related note, if something can be heat sterilized, do it. Don't just disinfect. In general, heat sterilization is much less harmful to instruments than disinfectants (provided the item is designed to withstand high heat, of course). Additionally, if sterilizing, you do not need to disinfect. Choose one (and only one) method of infection control to use.
- USE AS DIRECTED. Within reason, avoid “off label” use of instruments and equipment. The precision instruments you use to practice dentistry have been engineered to perform specific tasks and in specific ways. Using instruments other than as directed may put undue strain on components leading to premature wear and failure. For example, keep your handpiece drive air pressure at or below 40 psi and avoid excessive side loads (see Practice Tip #22) on the bur. Increased drive air pressure or leaning into a bur may shorten a given procedure, but these things will also shorten turbine life.
- KEEP SPARES ON HAND. There are many items that simply wear out with time and should be expected to be replaced. Things like light bulbs, fuses, and o-rings are common “wear and tear” items that you should always have on hand. When you’re down to the last one, order more. A room shouldn’t be down because a bulb has burned out.
- BE OBSERVANT. Keep your eyes and ears open. Know your equipment and be familiar with its appearance and sounds. Take note if things don’t look or sound right. Unusual sounds or appearance can be the first sign of a developing problem. If possible, take the item out of service until you can resolve the problem (or at least determine if there is one).