26 September 2011

    Q. According to BDA advice sheet (A12), instruments marked as single use should be thrown away after each patient. The same document also refers to new regulations which recognise the repeated use of endodontic files for the same patient. In my dental supplies catalogue, all the root treatment instruments are marked with the single use icon. How should I treat this apparently contradictory information?

    According to BDA advice sheet (A12), instruments marked as single use should be thrown away after each patient. The same document also refers to new regulations which recognise the repeated use of endodontic files for the same patient. In my dental supplies catalogue, all the root treatment instruments are marked with the single use icon. How should I treat this apparently contradictory information?

    In 2007 the Chief Dental Officer (CDO) announced that endodontic instruments should be for single use only and could not be autoclaved due to the potential problems with prions and the possible transmission of CJD. Click here to read the document.

    However, the CDO update in March 2010 confirmed that there was now some relaxation in the guidance in HTM01-05, Decontamination of Primary Dental Care Practices, which the original guidance had been based upon.

    The new guidance therefore accepted a proposed relaxation in this area, but only in so far as that endodontic files and reamers may be reused for the same patient. This relaxation is conditional upon the instruments indeed being marketed as reusable. In short therefore the same instruments must be used for the same patient for that course of endodontic treatment and they must be capable of being sterilised during the course of that treatment, as well as being securely stored before the patient re-attends.

    If they cannot be re-sterilised, and are indeed clearly designated as single use only, then they must be disposed of after use. If however they are reusable and can be sterilised they can then be used again for that same patient alone and for that course of endodontic treatment, before they are finally disposed of. This is a slight relaxation of the decontamination guidance and has been endorsed by the CDO. Click here to read the document.

    Dental Protection has collected some of the other enquiries received on this topic here

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