Want to reduce your dental practice running costs and cleaning times?

The need to reprocess instruments quickly, effectively and repeatedly is becoming ever more important in the dental surgery. Using a validated ultrasonic cleaner can reduce costs, improve results and ensure that your surgery is HTM2030 compliant.

The modernised surgery can be a costly place to run and fit out. Current trends in primary care instrument decontamination are heading towards the guidelines set out in HTM2030 where each stage of the cleaning process requires validating. This covers both the cleaning stage and the sterilisation process.

Due to this it has virtually rendered manual cleaning obsolete. How do you validate how hard items have been scrubbed or whether the correct amount of detergent was used? You can't and these will ultimately vary depending on who is carrying out the cleaning process. It is variable such as this which are being ironed out of the decontamination process through the use of automated cleaning methods.

These changes have primarily been brought about due to threats of cross contamination of diseases such as vCJD and MRSA. Although these diseases have only really occurred in hospital environments, but there is a possibility that similar situations could occur within the primary care field. It is because of this that HTM2030 is now being enforced for the cleaning process of non-disposable instruments.

These guidelines as very explicit about the type of equipment to be used in decontamination and has a section devoted to ultrasonic cleaning. The main part of the guidelines discusses washer disinfectors with the ultrasonic section covering a mere few pages. However, washer disinfectors are an expensive solution to the problem of decontamination, and even more so in the primary care field. The cost of a washer disinfector is colossal when compared to benchtop ultrasonic cleaners. However, these ultrasonic cleaners are simple units which carry out the same cleaning action but there is no validation incorporated, thus making them inadequate for the task in hand.

But this doesn't mean that ultrasonic cleaning should not be used. There is a validated benchtop ultrasonic cleaning manufactured by UK based Ultrawave. The Hygea 1250 is fully compliant with HTM2030 and incorporates a locking lid, inbuilt validation printer which records every stage of the process and a sachet dosing system to ensure the correct detergent mixture every time. This benchtop unit has been designed with primary care sites in mind and has been modernised to fit in with the next generation of practices. It also offers a number of advantages over its washer disinfector counterparts in terms of costs. The cost of purchase is around half that of the cheapest automated alternative which is a key factor in the primary care purchasing equation. Primary care sites operate on limited budgets and cost is always an issue when it comes to updating equipment, hence why the Hygea is such an excellent option. Coupled with this is the cost saving in terms of operation costs. These are also substantially lower than other methods often tipping the scales at around half that of these other methods. When you look at the big picture in terms of costs there is no better method for carrying out instrument decontamination for the money.

In addition to these great cost benefits the unit operates a very short cycle time. Tests have shown that six minutes is sufficient to successfully decontaminate surgical instruments to the desired standard. This is some five times shorter than the spray wash option while retaining roughly the same capacity. This not only creates the benefit of the dramatic rise in potential throughput of instruments but also further cost savings. These short cycle times mean less power is consumed along with less water. Although an ultrasonic cleaner may use more power during operation than the other options because they only operate for such a short time period in one go the overall power consumption is ultimately going to be lower.

There are some instances where practices have opted for the ultimate decontamination package and purchased both an ultrasonic cleaner and a washer disinfector for processing instruments prior to them being placed into the autoclave, but this is a sparse occurrence because the cost of this is extremely high, and often to high to be considered. Buying an ultrasonic cleaner will not compromise the cleaning results achieved and although the Hygea does not carry out a thermal disinfection stage is does guarantee to remove harmful proteins to the desired level leaving the instruments in a condition where sterilisation can be carried out without the need for thermal disinfection.

Another design advantage are the trays which are supplied with the Hygea. These trays are removable from their rack mounting meaning they can be transferred straight from the benchtop cleaner to the autoclave without any loading or unloading. This reduces the amount handling required and further speeds up the decontamination process, freeing up resources to carry out essential tasks within the practice.

When you take all of these factors into consideration the Hygea 1250 does present an excellent case for purchase and it should almost certainly be considered when the time comes to update practice decontamination equipment.

Edward Mant. Marketing Executive at Ultrawave, says "We are delighted with the levels of success that is being achieved with the Hygea 1250. Bringing a new product to market carries with it many concerns about how well it will perform in a practical environment and whether it will meet the end users requirements. Although we carried out extensive testing on the unit there is no substitute for a practical environment and so far it has been exceeding all our expectations which has brought us a great deal of satisfaction. It is due to the continued success of the Hygea that we have been able to reduce our manufacturing costs and then pass these savings on to our customers in the form of a price reduction. The reduced cost means it is now more accessible to those with limited budgets and small practices.