Importance of Steam Sterilization in dentistry

Dentistry like any other healthcare industry must adhere to strict infection control guidelines.  Infection control and disease prevention are essential for the efficacy of the dental assistants’ work, as well as the safety of the dental professionals and patients, by ensuring a healthy work atmosphere, free of all sorts of infections. 

Because patients are constantly in contact with surgical instruments, injections, and gauze, sterilization equipment is an indispensable part of modern healthcare. The sterilization equipment must be utilized securely to better protect the wellbeing of the patients, staff, and clinical environment.

Steam Sterilization in Dentistry

To avoid disease transmission from patient to patient, these critical instruments must be cleaned thoroughly and effectively. This step is basic to guarantee the instruments are free of perilous microorganisms that can cause infection.

Moist heat in the form of immersed steam under high pressure and high temperature is the most extensively used and most reliable of all the sterilizing methods available. Steam sterilization is safe, inexpensive, microbicidal as well as sporicidal and viricidal that also has the capacity to penetrate fabrics. 

Why is Sterilization Important In Dentistry?

During invasive operations, a surgical instrument or a piece of equipment comes in touch with a patient’s mucous membrane or oral tissue. The inclusions of harmful microorganisms, which could lead to infection, are serious danger of these procedures. 

Steam Sterilization Dentistry

When surgical instruments are not thoroughly disinfected or sterilized, the risk of infections increases due to the breach of host barriers. A few health risks that occur if proper care of sterilization won’t be taken care of in the dental clinic while performing the surgical procedures. 

  • Risk of contamination 
  • Transmission of various bacterial infections such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes.
  • Transmission of fungal infections like Candida Albicans
  • Common flu can be easily transmitted
  • Viral infections like poliovirus, rotavirus, coronavirus, HIV (AIDS), Hepatitis, Herpes types 1&2, influenza, SARS, etc. can be transmitted.
  • Transmission of Prion bacterial infection

To avoid these serious health risks instruments sterilizers are becoming more efficient in terms of time and size, ensuring that items are sterilized and ready to be stored in a good length of time.  Autoclave or steam sterilizers are found in almost every sterile processing area. 

This is due to the fact that steam can clean a wide range of medical devices and is usually the safest and inexpensive alternative. 

Principle of Dental Steam Sterilizer

The fundamental principle of steam sterilization is to expose each dental instrument to direct steam immersion at the specified temperature and pressure for the specified amount of time. 

Dental Steam Sterilizer

Pressure serves as a means to get the high temperature vital to rapidly slaughter microorganisms. Pressure is used to reach the desired temperatures required to quickly kill bacteria.  The two common steam-sterilizing temperatures are 121°C (249.8°F) and 134°C (273.2°F). To destroy pathogenic microorganisms, a certain temperature must be maintained for a specified duration. Depending upon various factors like temperature, type of dental instruments the sterilization time differs.

How Does Steam Sterilizer work?

Steam Sterilization Parameters

Microorganisms are eradicated by the irretrievable coagulation and denaturation of enzymes and structural proteins in a steam sterilizer. It has been discovered that the high moisture content has a significant impact on the coagulation temperature of proteins and the temperature at which microorganisms are annihilated. 

Types of Steam Sterilizers:

Because steam sterilizers are becoming more ubiquitous, there are a variety of steam sterilizers as per the sterilization cycle or vacuum cycle. 

The Two Most Popular Types of Autoclaves used in the dental industry are N-type & B type autoclaves. 

N-Type Autoclave:

Also widely known as Gravity displacement autoclave. Due to its high simplicity, and lack of reliance on peripheral machinery to replace the air with steam prior to the commencement of the cycle.  N Class Autoclave stands for “Non-vacuum” autoclave that is utilized for the sterilization of Naked or Unwrapped solid instruments only. 

N Type Autoclave

Gnatus N Class Autoclave from Brazil has a unique design and outstanding performance for more effective sterilizing. It has newly upgraded 18 safety features to ensure that the sterilizing process is completed properly without any interruption and enhanced safety to the user. 

B Type Autoclave:

Also widely known as Vacuum Autoclave or Vacuum Sterilisers, enable deeper sterilization of steam into the instruments by removing the entrapped air using the vacuum pump before the start of the sterilization cycle. It facilitates high temperatures to enter and sterilize areas that would otherwise be inhabited by ambient air. Its Vacuum cycle after sterilization allows for better drying of the porous instruments. 

B Type Autoclave

Runyes Feng 23L B class autoclave with European standard and triple vacuum cycle ensures 100% sterilization of reusable all types of dental instruments with proper annihilation of bacteria, spores, virus, fungi, etc. Its USB tracking facility and safety features make it a reliable dental autoclave. Along with all these advanced features, the B+ cycle makes sure for effective sterilization of surgical instruments like implant kits, etc. free from prion bacteria. 


The overall goal of steam sterilization in dental practices is to reduce the number of healthcare-related ailments. Steam sterilizers when used appropriately, ensure the safety of basic, semi-critical, and non-critical patient care goods.  In the event that dental professionals strictly adhere to the principles of sterilization and infection control inside the clinic, as well as the use of the proper dental autoclave, infection transmission will be minimized, resulting in a safe environment for patients and staff. 

Comment (1)

  • Preston Dentist

    Thanks for this great and very important article on sterilisation in the dentist industry! It is an extremely hot topic right now with COVID-19 and all and the public doesn’t really know how dental offices make extra effort for staff and patient safety.
    Our local dental clinic in Preston in the UK have adopted similar technology and we are even experimenting with UV light disinfection technology as well (although it’s quite costly for us at the moment).
    Would be great to know if your supplier/provider gives you any certifications and case studies on the effectiveness of the steam approach? We have been receiving some requests for such and curious if you had a similar experience.

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