Why You Should Be Using an Enzymatic Cleaner
Dentistry is an increasingly “target-driven” profession and many practices (particularly those fulfilling an NHS contract) are under pressure to maintain a high throughput of patients. This makes the speed and effectiveness of instrument reprocessing even more important, not only in terms of compliance, but also from a business efficiency point of view.
If it isn’t clean it can be sterile!
If instruments are insufficiently cleaned they cannot be sterilised effectively, even after a cycle in an autoclave, so your choice of cleaning product is crucial. This is where enzymatic detergents come into their own. They are increasingly popular due to their efficient and effective cleaning action, which is in contrast to other, often harsher chemical alternatives.
Kinder to your instruments and the environment
Historically, chemicals that have the ability to break down the type of contamination found on dental instruments, such as dried blood and saliva, have been formulated using less environmentally friendly constituents.
However, as advances in cleaning technology have emerged, practices have started to question whether the possible detriment to both users and equipment, combined with a negative environmental impact, makes them the most suitable cleaning substances. The development of multiple enzymes (amongst other ingredients) in detergents has effectively reduced the need for more aggressive chemical ingredients and has resulted in a number of benefits. Better user safety, a reduction in the environmental impact and wider material compatibility all create an improved cleaning solution for dental practices.
What are enzymes? The natural alternative
Enzymes are naturally occurring proteins and are responsible for many essential biochemical reactions in microorganisms, plants, animals and humans and as such are crucial to life processes.
Enzymes catalyse specific reactions, which means they speed up reactions, while at the same time remaining themselves unchanged. One such reaction results in the breakdown of the proteins in blood that can be left on dental instruments. The presence of enzymes in a detergent enables cleaning to take place at lower temperatures, at neutral pH and reduces the need for aggressive chemical breakdown of the soil. This makes enzyme cleaners ideal for use in both manual and ultrasonic cleaning processes.
Enzymes are selective in the reactions they carry out and will only work on a material if it is present. This selectivity not only provides efficient and effective cleaning but has also enabled the formulation of cleaning solutions that have excellent material compatibility – a crucial benefit in dental surgeries where many different types of surfaces and materials are found.
Enzymes are also fully biodegradable and their regular use enhances practices’ green credentials, by using the power of nature to create the effective cleaning agents required in a healthcare setting.
Enzyme types that might be found in dental instrument cleaning products include:
- Protease, which breaks down proteins
- Lipase, which breaks down lipids (fats)
- Amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates and starch
Let’s go green
So, as practices get busier again, we need efficiency and effectiveness from our decontamination processes, whilst keeping one eye on how we can contribute to a safer, more sustainable environment for all.
The use of enzyme-based cleaning products in conjunction with pre-cleaning treatments (such as immediate reprocessing or the use of an instrument foam to prevent contaminants from drying out), forms part of a collective movement that creates a highly effective instrument reprocessing regime. You can find more smart ideas on ways to lower your carbon footprint here.