Figure 10-9. - Sterile storage cabinet.
suitable for all dental items. As a basic dental assistant, you will need to know several approved methods of sterilization.
Steam under pressure (saturated steam) is the most effective means of sterilization for almost all items used in dentistry. To achieve sterility, moist heat under pressure must come in contact with all surfaces of all items for the appropriate length of time. To effectively sterilize items using saturated steam, the temperature of the steam throughout the load must be high enough to destroy the most resistant micro-organisms in the time allotted for sterilization. For example, some spores can withstand temperatures above the normal boiling point of water (212°F or 100°C); so the relationship of temperature to spore killing power is critical. Steam temperature and exposure time, not pressure, are crucial components of this process. Pressure is used only to raise the temperature of the steam and, in itself, has nothing to do with microbial killing action. At 15 pounds per square inch (psi), the boiling point increases to 121°C (250°F), a temperature at which all known organisms are killed.Continue Reading