The dental decontamination journey

Law & Regulation
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Eschmann’s David Gibson talks us through designing a compliant dental decontamination unit

How you take your journey towards compliant infection control and prevention in a dental practice is up to you, however there are a few important factors you need to consider before taking that all important first step.

It is impossible to underestimate the importance of meticulous planning and preparation, after all, if you were planning a family holiday you wouldn’t leave booking the taxi to the airport until the morning of your flight, would you? In the same way you must pre-plan your way around any limitations you might need to overcome when setting up a decontamination unit within a dental practice – especially if the surgeries are located in converted domestic buildings, with all the associated logistical constraints.

If there is any opportunity to design the gold standard two-room decontamination facility you should make the most of it. Not just because it is the most practical – the two-room layout helps streamline workflow and improve efficiency – but also because the separation into dirty and clean rooms helps reduce the risk of cross-contamination to the lowest level. Quite simply, it is the most reliable and thorough setup, and one that clearly illustrates a true commitment to health and safety.

However, the gold standard of the dedicated side-by-side clean and dirty rooms isn’t always feasible, which leaves two alternative options: single room decontamination or an in-surgery solution.
Given these choices the single dedicated decontamination room will always be the preferred option, but here as with the in-surgery option it is crucial that a through flow strategy from dirty to clean is implemented at all times by all members of the team. There are a lot of factors to take on board, but as with any journey there are guides and planners to help you, including comprehensive suggestions about how best to design each layout in the HTM 01-05 document.

There are elements you must incorporate into the design to minimise cross-contamination. These key design points include:

• Designate an exclusive area of benching to receive contaminated instruments
• Install the washer disinfector and/or washing and rinsing sinks or separate bowls within a single sink unit adjacent to the receiving area
• If an ultrasonic cleaner is used have it installed adjacent to the rinsing sink/bowl but separate from the receiving area.
• Have separate cabinetry with good lighting to be used when inspecting instruments.
• Segregate the steriliser from all other facilities.
• Provide wash-hand basins for staff to use at the completion of each of the decontamination processes.
• Separate the input door in the dirty area and the area used to empty the clean instruments by a barrier if a double-ended washer disinfector is in use, or build it directly into the separating wall between the dirty and clean areas.

The equipment you choose will have a significant impact on infection prevention and control management, so consider your options carefully before making a decision. For example, to guarantee that all proteins and contaminants are removed prior to sterilisation a washer disinfector is the best choice. And always try to opt for the most convenient, straightforward and effective equipment solutions, your staff will thank you. There is also your steriliser to think about as well as a handpiece cleaner, preferably one that assists with lubrication in addition to cleaning and maintenance. The team has enough to think about without wrestling with faulty or complex decontamination equipment. Keep it clean and simple to operate.

Once your decontamination system is installed you must keep on top of maintenance, servicing, testing and validation to ensure that all equipment is working efficiently. Only then can you achieve complete compliance. At Eschmann, we offer Care&Cover protection alongside our leading Little Sister decontamination equipment to take care of all these aspects, leaving you to focus on improving your workflow and delivering quality patient care.

The journey to achieving and maintaining compliance can seem fraught, but with stringent infection control measures and top quality equipment you can ensure that patients and staff alike are protected against dangerous pathogens and you can enjoy peace of mind.

David Gibson is Marketing Manager in infection control for Eschmann. He has over 21 years’ experience of infection control in dentistry and other medical sectors. Prior to joining Eschmann David was sales and marketing manager at Meditread, a healthcare equipment and supplies retailer, and before that he was marketing communications manager for Prestige Medical.
For more information about decontamination equipment and products from EschmannDirect visit  or call 01903 753322