A dental autoclave, AKA an autoclave sterilizer, is a machine used to completely sterilize dental equipment and instruments so they are safe for use with patients. Using an autoclave is the last step in the dental sterilization workflow. Once the dental equipment is sterilized, the instrument can be placed into equipment trays and used again.
How do dental autoclaves work?
Many autoclaves use a vacuum pump to remove air from inside the device, creating high pressure and causing steam to reach high temperatures. These high temperatures effectively kill any bacteria and other microorganisms in a short amount of time. Other autoclaves use dry heat at high enough temperatures to kill bacteria while also eliminating moisture.
What temperatures do dental autoclaves reach?
Steam in dental autoclaves can reach temperatures as high as 270 degrees Fahrenheit to kill bacteria in approximately 6 to 30 minutes.
What is the difference between dental autoclaves and dental sterilizers?
A sterilizer is a general term for any equipment that sterilizes. All dental autoclaves are sterilizers. However, only some sterilizers are autoclaves.
Two characteristics that separate autoclaves from other sterilizers:
Autoclaves are self-locking
Autoclaves use steam or dry heat to kill bacteria while other sterilizers use methods such as chemicals, filtration, and irritation to kill bacteria