Sterilization Procedures

Considering the fact that all dental treatments — from daily, routine check-ups to the specific treatment procedures — utilize special instruments, it is important that they are properly sterilized after each use. While certain instruments require certain procedures, in the end, all of them must be properly handled — from their use to their storage when not in use. There are four areas of instrument processing and sterilization: 


  1. Receiving, cleaning, and decontamination.
  2. Preparation and packaging. 
  3. Sterilization. 
  4. Storage.


As you can see, sterilizing instruments goes beyond simple cleaning — cleaning is necessary, but sterilization is necessary in addition to that. If you’ve worked at a healthcare facility before, you might be familiar with sterilization procedures, including the use of an autoclave or an ultrasonic cleaner. If not, that’s okay. You’ll most certainly get hands-on guidance and training at your practice. 



Each instrument has its own classification, ranging from critical to non-critical or disposable. Each of these classifications has its own special requirements for sterilization procedures that must be taken after each use: