Dentistry is a vital health practice that requires durable, effective tools. Every practice needs to perform regular maintenance on all devices and equipment to ensure they’re functioning correctly. Without good care, your instruments won’t hold up over time. Here are some schedules and tips for maintaining dental equipment to help you keep things running smoothly.
Importance of Dental Equipment Maintenance
Maintaining dental equipment is essential to providing sound, lasting care to patients. Without regular maintenance, it’s easy for dental equipment to fall into disrepair or become worn out much quicker than necessary.
Since your dental equipment helps you perform precise tasks, you need it to be in top condition at all times. Good maintenance and cleaning are key to quality dental care and tool functionality.
Maintenance is also crucial for safety. Dull, unclean and poorly maintained tools and equipment can lead to severe injury and disease for you or your patients. Keeping on top of all your maintenance needs protects the health and safety of everyone in your practice.
How Often Should Equipment Maintenance Be Performed?
Dental equipment needs regular servicing along with additional attention when surprise breaks occur. Before diving into equipment maintenance, you should always check the manufacturer’s recommendations. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines will help keep your dental tools in top shape without damaging them.
Every piece of equipment will have different maintenance timelines. You should consult the manufacturer and then follow up with the American Dental Association’s recommendations for equipment maintenance. This will help provide you with a guideline for checking dental tools.
How Often Do Dental Machines Need to Be Cleaned?
Cleaning is an essential part of dental machine maintenance. Every device and machine has its own cleaning requirements — follow manufacturer recommendations and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sterilization guidelines to protect patients and equipment. Establishing a dental equipment cleaning schedule will help you keep track of your cleaning and upkeep requirements to ensure you’re operating safely and effectively.
Here’s a guide to what needs to be cleaned and when at your dental practice:
Daily Maintenance and Cleaning
Divide daily cleanings into two categories — the beginning and end of your day. This day-to-day maintenance keeps everything running smoothly and ensures your most often-used tools receive the care they need.
When the Day Starts
Double-check everything before patients arrive. Get this equipment clean and set up for the day ahead:
- Check the X-ray processor and sterilizer fluid levels and start them up.
- Fill the ultrasonic with the correct amount of cleaning solution and water.
- Flush water through all air/water syringes and handpieces.
- Turn on the main water, compressor and vacuum lines.
- Fill water bottles for self-contained systems.
- Run a cleaning sheet through your processor.
- If applicable, turn on any delivery systems and open nitrous and oxygen tanks.
- Check chair functionality and look for faults. Report any you find.
Additionally, make sure to perform maintenance tasks during the day. Disinfect the workstation after each patient, sterilize and lubricate handpieces and check self-contained water bottle levels. You should also lubricate prophy angles, nose cones and contra-angles, disinfect operatory equipment and flush handpiece waterlines between every patient.
When the Day Ends
Once all patients have been seen and the day is winding down, it’s time for some final cleaning:
- Drain and wipe the ultrasonic cleaner.
- Turn off power scalers, sterilizers, X-rays, delivery systems, air compressor and vacuum systems, air polishers and the master delivery switch.
- For self-contained water bottle systems, flush air/water syringes, air polishers, handpiece tubings and ultrasonic scalers with air to prevent biofilm buildup.
- Run suction cleaner through the saliva ejector tubings and operatory HVE.
- Clean delivery unit traps.
Weekly Maintenance and Cleaning
Perform these tasks weekly to keep everything clean and functioning:
- Change delivery unit traps.
- Disassemble and lubricate valves.
- Clean sterilizer exterior, interior and reservoir.
- Perform biological spore tests on each sterilizer and check filters.
- Check O-rings in saliva ejector valves and HVE — replace if necessary.
Monthly Maintenance and Cleaning
Monthly tasks are easy to overlook — use your cleaning schedule to keep on top of everything, including:
- Cleaning the model trimmer.
- Checking and cleaning the master trap — replacing it if necessary.
- Cleaning intensifying screens and panoramic/Ceph cassettes.
- Checking rubber on emergency oxygen units and nitrous-oxide systems for deterioration.
- Checking and cleaning the plaster trap — replacing it if necessary.
- Inspecting the room for dust and cobwebs — cleaning any you spot.
- Ensuring the operatory light is clean and not foggy.
Quarterly Maintenance and Cleaning
These items don’t need to be maintained as frequently as most of the tools on the list, but they still need attention to ensure they stay in their best shape:
- Check the patient chair’s hydraulic fluid.
- Test smoke alarms.
- Clean drain lines and model trimmer wheels.
- Check compressor oil if necessary.
- Look at the computer battery backup life.
- Check nitrous, vacuum and delivery system tubing.
- Inspect central vacuum and compressor filters.
Annual Maintenance and Cleaning
Here are the items you should inspect yearly:
- Get fire extinguishers inspected.
- Conduct OSHA staff training.
- Get X-ray equipment inspected, calibrated and certified. You might not need to do this annually, depending on state regulations.
- Review all emergency procedures with all staff.
- Change cassette seals and sterilizer door gasket.
How Often Should You Replace Dental Equipment?
You should replace dental equipment according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It’s common for dental equipment to last 10 years, but you should always check with the manufacturer.
Additionally, repairing your dental equipment can help extend its life. When you notice equipment deteriorating or performing poorly, you should get it looked at to see if it needs repair or replacement. Keep an eye out for abnormal or loud noises and unusual discoloration or appearance. These can be signs of a more significant problem.
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