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How Dental Coordinators Can Improve the Lifespan of Their Office Instruments

If you are a dental coordinator or assistant who is in charge of inventory in your office, you may be looking for ways to improve the lifespan of the dentist's and hygienists' instruments. Scalers, curettes, scissors, probes, etc., all need to stay sharp to be effective during treatment and improve patient comfort. Instruments can degrade and lose their cutting edge with use, so here are some ways you can improve the lifespan of the instruments.

Provide Instrument Guides to Hygienists

During their schooling, your hygienists likely learned how to use sharpening stones, oils, and proper angles to sharpen their instruments. However, Dentistry IQ says that freehand sharpening can be an issue since it may take too long and the results may not be consistent since each instrument may require a different angle. Even if your hygienists are adept at freehand sharpening, they may not have time to do so during a busy schedule. One way to improve accuracy and efficiency is with an instrument guide. These devices improve the accuracy of sharpening and can sharpen an instrument quickly.

Contact a Retipping Service

If instrument guides aren't enough and tools are degrading quickly, then you may want to contact a retipping service. Some retipping services manufacture and sell instrument guides, while others will sharpen or completely re-tip instruments and send them back to the office. Retipping services are especially important for offices that focus on periodontal work, like scaling and root planning, since dentists need sharp instruments to thoroughly remove tartar and plaque below the gumline.

Retipping is beneficial for the working end of the instrument, the shank, and the handle. Since dull tips require more pressure to work, the shank can develop micro-fractures from this pressure. These cracks not only weaken the instrument but can leave crevices that may not get adequately sterilized. In short, sending your instruments to a retipping service is a great way to sharpen the working end, extend the tool's lifespan before complete replacement, and relieve the burden of re-sharpening for staff with busy schedules.  

Use Cassettes Instead of Pouches for Sterilization

If your retipping service provides medical supplies, you may want to look into dental cassettes. Cassettes are storage containers for instruments that can be made of plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, etc. Cassettes can secure a variety of instruments for different setups; for instance, your dentist may have a new-patient setup that contains a mirror and a dental explorer. Cassettes also have perforated openings so that the tools can be sterilized within the cassette. One problem with sterilization pouches is that many tools are dumped into them and they can scrape against one another. With cassettes, each tool has its own place, so the instruments will have less abrasive contact during sterilization. Cassettes can not only improve sterilization efficiency but keep instruments from going dull prematurely.

Contact companies like Dental Instrument Specialists to learn more.