November 30, 2022

With the release of the new Health Technical Memorandum HTM 01-05, best practice guidelines are more clear and concise making it easier for dental surgeries to maintain infection control quality levels.

With any surgical procedure, large or small, it is of course an essential requirement that instruments and other procedure equipment are properly sterilised. There has been much debate in healthcare professions including within dentistry, regarding sterilisation methods and general infection control measures in these environments.

The new HTM 01-05 ‘Decontamination in primary care dental practices’, issued during October 2008, aims to raise the quality of decontamination work in primary care dental services by consolidating, updating and outlining the effective decontamination of reusable instruments within dental facilities.

This new Health Technical Memorandum issued by the Department of Health (DH) should clarify best practice procedures ensuring that surgeries find it easier to understand and comply with industry best practice procedures. The need to upgrade equipment and processes has been apparent for some time and some dental surgeries done just that even before the release of the new guidelines. However, the majority of surgeries will need to invest significantly into the upgrade of their instrument cleansing and sterilisation methods.

A registration process of all dental practices including both NHS and private is due to commence soon which will provisionally place strong emphasis on quality management and clinical governance. The CQC (Care Quality Commission) will oversee the process and will have regulatory responsibility to ensure the requirements and specifications of the registration and they are expected to roll it out over a two year period.

Patient safety is of the utmost importance and therefore cross-contamination and infection control are prominent issues in the dental surgery. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that where possible, the use of sterile single use instruments is on the increase. The individually packaged, pre-sterilised instruments eliminate all risk of improper decontamination and sterilisation and therefore remove all doubt of potential cross contamination.

A possible downside of the use of sterile single use instruments is an increased cost to the surgery, however high quality, reasonably priced instruments are available to purchase. There are a number of choices to make when deciding on the right equipment to buy and there are a number of suppliers out there who are able to offer advice. One of such suppliers is the Dental Warehouse, who specialise solely in the supply of high quality dental consumables including sterile single use instruments, sterile procedure packs and surgery wear. They now boast and extended product range which also includes pharmaceuticals.