Care and Maintenance of Dental Hygiene Instruments

by Yaroslav Yarmolyuk DDS, MS

Dental warriors are dealing with the spread of diseases as the front line of defense. Most of the diseases can be traced back to the mouth. This is the main reason that dentists have to be extremely careful with their instruments as their instruments can be a potential carrier.

The dental hygiene instruments have to be cleansed through a proper routine. It is done in the best interest of the practice and patients. One of the best standards set for it is the published “Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings” by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).


The first and fundamental rule to follow is to cover and protect yourself initially. You should follow the protocol and start with the gear—Protective Personal Equipment (PPE). PPE is protective garb, helmets, goggles, or other garments or gadgets designed to guard the wearer’s frame against harm or contamination.

The gloves are an important part of the gear, and they should be scratch and corrosive resistant. Make sure to use a good quality so that there are no cuts in it and nothing is transmitted to and through the hands.


It can be quite tedious to clean the instruments as soon as you are done with them during a procedure. But this also means giving the debris permission to get comfortable on the instruments, and since we cannot allow that, it would be wise to soak instruments as soon as you are done with them.

If the instrument is allowed to dry, the material on it will dry off and get hard. If units sit in the processing place for a long term, the particles dry and make it harder to clean. The best practice is to place gadgets without delay into the ultrasonic unit or a maintaining field with an ultrasonic way to save them from drying.

Clean, then Steam

The cleaning through steam is effective when it can fully contact the surface of the instruments. If there is any debris left on the surface, it will not be sterilized. Therefore, it is important that the items are thoroughly cleaned beforehand.

There are multiple ways to achieve this. You can use ultrasonic waves to shake off the debris. The shock would loosen up the extra material on them. Besides manual scrubbing, which is not advisable, the other option is to get help from automated instrument washers. They are very effective and will save you the trouble of having to clean yourself.


As studies indicate, the sterilizers will dry off as much moisture as they have released. So to have the instruments properly sterilized, it is important to dry them first. If it is not dried and then placed to be sterilized, the result will not be satisfactory because of the extra moisture.


It is advisable to pack the instruments before loading in the sterilizer. This step is done to protect the instruments from any contamination that may occur due to contact with the air after they are taken out from the sterilizer.

The packaging of the instruments should be autoclave wraps that can withstand the process and allow penetration as well. Since the instruments are in the wraps, it is critical to have indicators to be sure the process is accurate or happening at all. Chemical indicators can be used to see if the sterilization is happening through a change of colors, while the biological indicators show through the pore test.


Do not stack the machine to the maximum to be done sooner. The more stuffed it is, the worse the process will be.

The instruments are employed in the use of different types of braces and to check or maintain the dental health of patients. To avoid any inconvenience that can occur due to improper use, they should be thoroughly sterilized. I hope this has proven to be useful to understand the importance of care and maintenance of dental hygiene Instruments.

About the Author

After completing his undergraduate studies in Biology, Dr. Yaroslav Yarmolyuk attended the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), College of Dentistry, where he received extensive theoretical and clinical training in dentistry. During his studies at UIC, Dr. Yarmolyuk obtained a Bachelor of Science in Dentistry and a Doctor of Dental Surgery degrees. Dr. Yarmolyuk was involved in a variety of research and leadership activities and is a recipient of multiple honors and awards.