Recommendation for NHSScotland
No research evidence was identified which examined the effectiveness of storage options in protecting sterilised unwrapped dental instruments from microbial contamination that might have an impact on patient safety.
Best practice guidelines provide consensus recommendations for storage of reusable dental instruments.
NHSScotland is required to consider the Scottish Health Technologies Group (SHTG) advice.
What were we asked to look at?
After dental instruments have been sterilised unwrapped and are dry, is enclosure in lidded trays, suitable bags or containers (compared with immediate use or loose storage) sufficient to protect them from microbial recontamination relevant to patient safety outcomes?
Why is this important?
Sterilisation of reusable dental instruments is the final step in an overall decontamination process. The effectiveness of each step is reliant on the others. Steam sterilisation is the most efficient, cost effective and safe method of sterilising reusable dental instruments in primary care dental practices.
The majority of reusable dental instruments in Scottish primary care dental practices are sterilised using a non-vacuum benchtop steam steriliser. Sterilisation in these devices requires that instruments be processed unwrapped. The safest and most effective storage options for these sterilised instruments is unclear and practice varies across Scotland.
The Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP).