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Sterilization and Disinfection of Patient-Care Items in Oral Healthcare Settings

Course Number: 474

Critical Patient-care Items

During the course of their intended use, critical items penetrate soft and hard tissues or the vascular system and confer a high degree of risk for infection if contaminated with pathogens.2-4 In oral healthcare settings critical items such as surgical instruments, periodontal scalers, scalpel blades, burs, and explorers present the greatest risk of transmitting infection. Heat-tolerant critical items must be sterilized by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared heat sterilizer.2,3 Heat-sensitive critical items may be sterilized by a low-temperature sterilization process or by an FDA-registered chemical sterilant.2,3,6