ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Do Dentists Avoid Replacing Tools Constantly

Updated on July 19, 2013

When you go to the dentist, you've probably noticed that every time, your dentist pulls tools out of a package. At first glance, it might appear that they use new tools for every patient, but that would be insanely expensive to maintain as a practice. If you've ever taken a look around the offices, you may have noticed a machine that appears to clean the dentists tools—an autoclave machine. Autoclaving metals ensures their sterility, and works by placing the tools in a very hot, pressurized environment to kill germs. The tools used in the office aren't brand new every time, but they are extraordinarily clean. But autoclaving is a little more complex than just applying heat, and it's not the only way dentists keep their tools in tip-top shape.


An autoclave is a machine similar to a pressure cooker that sterilizes metals and glass. It exposes materials to highly-pressurized steam at 121 degrees Celsius (just about 250 degrees Fahrenheit) for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the material and how much of it needs sterilization. In addition to being used for dental tools, it's also used in prosthetics fabrication, veterinary applications, the tattooing and body piercing industries, medicine, and microbiology.

Autoclaving is a process that requires attention to detail. Autoclave bags need to be packed in such a way that allows steam penetration—bags can't be overloaded with instruments. This is likely why you usually see one or two tools per bag at the dentist. The bags must also be left open prior to autoclaving, because if they're put into the machine closed, the temperature inside the bag can't rise high enough to sufficiently decontaminate the tools. Since the bags—which are usually made out of paper and a sort of plastic called polypropylene—are impervious to steam, closing them before sterilization means the process won't be effective. Autoclaved metal instruments will maintain their sterility and are safe to be used for up to 96 weeks after the process.

Autoclaving, by nature, puts metals into a highly corrosive environment, so it's important to employ methods to prevent rusting and corrosion, especially given what these tools are used for. It's also important to maintain the parts of the autoclave and make sure they themselves don't become corroded, as that can compromise the device's effectiveness.

That's where electropolishing comes in.


Electropolishing is a little bit more complicated than autoclaving, not to mention an entirely different process. While autoclaving sterilizes tools, electropolishing polishes tools so they are resistant to corrosion. The two processes go hand in hand when trying to preserve the integrity of a tool. Where autoclaving uses simply high heat and water to create a steam in a pressurized environment, electropolishing works by immersing metals into a bath of a chemical solution, usually containing sulfuric and phosphoric acid. Electropolishing effectively deburrs metals—or makes their surfaces more homogenous. The smoother surface prevents imperfections in the metal from becoming sites for potential contamination or corrosion.

Electropolishing can be used both on the dental instruments as well as the autoclave machine parts themselves. Since water—and in turn, steam—are corrosive environments for metals to be in, corrosion within an autoclaving machine can also be an issue. Companies like Able Electropolishing provide services that electropolish metals to ensure they are at their best quality and to ensure they last as long as possible.

In addition to making metals smoother and resistant to corrosion, the finished product is extremely clean—polish tools are left completely free of dust particles, foreign debris, oils, and other foreign matters.

In essence, dentists are able to avoid having to replace their dental tools more frequently thanks to processes like autoclaving and electropolishing. Electropolishing and deburring ensures that metals are less susceptible to corrosion, which is a concern for both the tools as well as the inside parts of the autoclave, and the finished metals are left extremely smooth and clean, which prevents contamination and makes the autoclaving process more efficient.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)