Dental instrument that are used or contaminated have to be cleaned and bacteria-free before reuse. Therefore, they need to be sterilized before use. Sterilization is a term referring to any process that eliminates (removes) or kills all forms of life, including transmissible agents (such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, spore forms, etc.) present on a surface, contained in a fluid, in medication, or in a compound such as biological culture media. Sterilization can be achieved by applying the proper combination of heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, and filtration. (Source from wikipedia)
In dentistry, we use autoclave to sterilize our dental instruments. Autoclave is a device to sterilize equipment and supplies by subjecting them to high pressure saturated steam at 121 °C or more, typically for 15–20 minutes depending on the size of the load and the contents. It was invented by Charles Chamberland in 1879, although a precursor known as the steam digester was created by Denis Papin in 1679. The name comes from Greek auto, ultimately meaning self, and Latin clavis meaning key — a self-locking device. (Source from wikipedia)
Most dental clinic use autoclave unit to sterilize their instruments. According to the European Standard EN 13060, autoclave are divided into:
Type B- It has 3-times per-vacuum preceding vacuum drying. It can be used on wrapped and hollow instruments, which means a piece of equipment can be sterilized now for use later. This is the most effective autoclave as the steam able to penetrates deep into the pouches/wrappers or even double pouched instruments.
Type S – Comes with a one times pre-vacuum and vacuum drying function and efficient quick spraying steam generator. It can’t be used to sterilize instruments which are double pouch or the instruments which are wrapped in the thick wrapper/pouch.
Type N – This autoclave comes without vacuum function, it can be used for hollow instruments and solid instruments.This autoclaves are only suitable for a specific type of
load–for solid, unwrapped instruments.
Type B European Standard Autoclave – It has the highest standard among the type S and type N. It allows deep penetration into pouched/wrapped instrument. Type B Autoclave used widely in operating theater and it is used by our clinic too.