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5 Common Dental Equipment Mistakes & How to Prevent Them

5 Common Dental Equipment Mistakes & How to Prevent Them


Wondering how to secure the success and longevity of your dental practice? Today, we are discussing some of the most common errors in dentistry – as well as how to avoid and prevent them.


Mistake 1: Improper Sterilization Procedures

Sterilization is an absolutely crucial aspect of practice management. Properly sterilizing equipment, surfaces, instruments, and devices prevents disease and/or infection transmission. Improper sterilization procedures place you, your staff, and your patients at serious risk.

After an operatory has been used, every surface should be thoroughly disinfected using disinfectant solutions such as CaviCide.

Barrier film and barrier sleeves can be applied to well-used surfaces to prevent cross-contamination and help cut back on the amount of time that is needed to thoroughly clean and sterilize the room.


All cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilization of instruments and devices should be done in a central area inside the office. This both ensures safety and quality control. The sterilization area of your practice should have separate stations for:

  • Receiving, cleaning, and decontamination (for the removal of visible debris)
  • Preparation and sterile packaging in sterilization pouches
  • Sterilization (typically inside an autoclave)
  • Storage


Keeping the receiving and packaging areas away from the storage area helps prevent cross-contamination and ensures that all sterilized items remain sterile and ready for use.

Staff members who are carrying out sterilization processes should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as heavy-duty gloves, face shield or face mask, eye protection, and a disposable gown or jacket.

Weekly spore tests should be carried out to ensure that your sterilization equipment (sterilization cassettes) is functioning correctly.


Mistake 2: Usage of Out-of-Date Equipment

If you have equipment in your dental practice that is over ten years old, it is time to start considering your options for upgrading and replacing them. 


There are a few reasons that out-of-date equipment may pose a risk to your practice:

  • Older equipment is more likely to break down and/or need repairs, which can be costly and disruptive to your daily operations
  • Out-of-date equipment may not meet current industry standards or regulations
  • Older equipment may feature obsolete technology that is difficult to use 
  • Out-of-date equipment is typically much less energy-efficient than new equipment


Each piece of equipment in your practice has a different lifespan; for instance, a dental handpiece will have a shorter lifespan than a patient chair. To get a solid understanding of the proper time to replace your old equipment, contact the manufacturer.

When it comes time to order new equipment for your dental practice, Safco Dental Supply is here for you. From autoclaves to digital x-ray sensors to vacuum systems, we have what you need.

Our team will be happy to help you determine if it is time for you to upgrade or replace your old equipment, and we will assist you in hand-selecting your new equipment.


Mistake 3: Incorrect Storage

Incorrectly stored instruments and supplies may dramatically increase the risk of contamination. OSHA and CDC safety protocols can be followed to ensure that your practice is following all possible safety measures.

Dental instruments and supplies should be properly stored in order to maintain a safe, orderly, and sterile working environment.

Sterilized instruments and sterile supplies (such as sponges or cotton rolls) should be kept in a dry area that is distanced from any working operatories and the practice’s sterilization area. It is best to store them in enclosed drawers or cabinets. Avoid storing supplies and instruments underneath sinks or in any other area where they may become wet.


Mistake 4: Insufficient Equipment Maintenance

Proper equipment maintenance is the best way to avoid issues with the equipment in your dental practice. 

Proper maintenance starts with proper equipment usage. Improperly using any type of equipment can contribute to increased wear and may eventually cause the equipment to break. Be sure to keep all manufacturer instructions on hand, and ensure that all staff members are aware of these instructions. 

Keeping up with thorough and correct cleaning procedures is another way to properly maintain your equipment and extend its lifetime. Keep a log of maintenance and cleaning that should be done on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. 


Below are some examples of proper equipment maintenance:

  • Turn vacuums and air compression system off each day after closing
  • Refill ultrasonic with fresh water and solution each day
  • Ensure that delivery unit traps are thoroughly cleaned and/or replaced each week
  • Run cleaning solution through operatory HVE each week
  • Turn off x-ray system each day after closing
  • Check O-rings on handpiece couplers and gaskets on handpieces
  • Lubricate handpieces as needed
  • Have x-ray equipment inspected and calibrated each year


For handpiece repairs and restoration, Safco Dental is happy to offer you Safco Service. Quality repair and restoration services at competitive prices with convenience quick turnarounds and free shipping, get your free estimate today!

For questions about how you and your team can best maintain your equipment purchased at Safco Dental Supply, contact us today.


Mistake 5: Wrong Instrument Selection for Procedures

Selecting and using the wrong instruments for various procedures can have a wide range of negative outcomes, such as:

  • Poor treatment outcome
  • Possible injury to patient
  • Damage or breakage to instruments


In order to avoid incorrect instrument selection, be sure to go over each instrument ahead of time with your staff. Consider the procedures that you will be completing, and make sure that you have the instruments and equipment you need on hand.


Consequences of Dental Equipment Mistakes

Dental equipment mistakes can have serious consequences, such as an impact on your patient’s health, treatment outcome, and your practice’s reputation – just to name a few. 


Impact on Patient’s Health

Failing to properly sterilize your instruments, surfaces, or equipment can have disastrous impacts on your patients’ health. 

Proper sterilization methods are designed to firmly protect against disease transmission; when proper sterilization is not practiced, you place both your staff and patients at risk.

Using broken, out-of-date, or incorrect instruments or equipment can also produce negative outcomes and jeopardize your patients’ health.


Effect on Treatment Outcomes

When you strive to create a well-functioning practice, you can depend on an exceptional treatment outcome.

Alternatively, if you fall victim to any of the common mistakes listed above, you may find that the outcome of the treatment you provide your patients is sub-par. The use of outdated, broken, unsterile, or incorrect equipment can greatly hinder treatment outcome.


Legal Consequences and Professional Liability

Legal consequences – namely malpractice suits – can arise in the event that you fail to correct any of the above mistakes.

Failure to practice proper sterilization techniques in your practice can lead to disease transmission and place your patients’ health at serious risk. For instance, if a patient receives dental care with unsterile equipment and develops a blood-borne illness (such as Hepatitis C), the patient may take legal action.

Litigation may also be taken out against dental practices that fail to pass routine inspections. 


Impact on Dental Practice’s Reputation

Your practice’s reputation is the cornerstone of its success. Just as positive word of mouth and raving reviews can skyrocket your business, poor reviews and negative patient experiences have the potential to completely ruin your business.

Avoiding the common mistakes that have been discussed in this article will help you protect your practice’s reputation and thus, the success of your business.


Turn to Safco for Quality Dental Equipment

High-quality equipment helps power the most successful dental practices. Allow us to help you bring the success and professionalism of your practice to a whole new level.

For high-quality dental products, place your trust in Safco Dental Supply and learn more from our team of experts about all things dental. We provide a wide range of products to fit every need, with free shipping on orders over $250. 

We strive to get you your products as fast as possible. All orders placed before 4:30 pm CST (3:30 pm on Friday) are shipped out same-day.


Give us a call at 800.621.2178 to speak with one of our experts about different types of dental equipment and proper handling techniques.

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