How to maintain your practice equipment during the coronavirus lockdown

Dental experts have put together tips for closing down practice equipment in response to the coronavirus lockdownDuring these troubling times, the future of the dental industry faces many uncertainties in the face of coronavirus.

However, some potential problems can be avoided with the right precautions – including the correct maintenance of practice equipment.

As there is no way of knowing when dental teams will be back to their regular routines, it is crucial that equipment is properly cared for in the interim.

For many professionals, this will be the first time in their career they will be faced with the need for precautions and equipment protection.

Neel Kothari, of High Street Dental Practice, believes it is vital that practices understand how to effectively close down surgeries.

He said: ‘Dental equipment is generally not designed to be out of action for extended periods (more than four days).

‘This current lockdown has placed us all in uncharted waters. Simply put, we need to prepare for key pieces of equipment being out of use for weeks or potentially months.

‘At the same time, we also need to be ready for an influx of untreated dental disease when the social distancing requirements begin to relax.’

With help from Durr Dental, Belmont and Anglian Dental, we have put together a selection of top tips to help you keep your equipment in check.

Delivery unit

  • Remove all couplings, hand pieces, scalers, air motors, electric motors and connectors
  • If your unit has a water bottle, make sure you regularly purge the appropriate water disinfectant solution from all outlets
  • Run each outlet for a few minutes. Once complete, remove and empty the bottle
  • Refit the empty bottle and run all outlets again for 30 seconds each. This process will stop the build-up of biofilm but also dry all internal pipelines and avoid water seizing the valves.

Suction pumps and suction hoses

  • If your chair spittoon is connected to the vacuum system, pour some diluted disinfection solution (around one litre) – such as Orotol Plus – down the bowl while the suction is switched on
  • Suck two litres of plain water through the suction tubes using the disinfection system
  • Use a product, such as Dürr MD 555, as per instructions, then Durr Orotol Plus as per instructions
  • Switch off the suction pump
  • Do not leave suction filters in bleach or solutions. This will degrade the plastic and reduce the filtration
  • Ideally the suction should be flushed through at least once a week to avoid it seizing up with long periods of inactivity.

Compressors

  • If it does not have a dryer, drain it and then switch off the power
  • If it has a dryer, just power it down
  • Although it is unlikely that the compressors will cease during a prolonged shut down, regularly purging the air and water lines will keep your compressor periodically in use

Water distiller

  • Clean out units, descale and leave to dry

Autoclave

  • Make sure you run a cleaning cycle if one exists and then allow it to cool with the door open
  • Empty the clean and/or dirty water reservoirs
  • Once cooled, wipe them out with a clean lint-free cloth where you can, as well as the door seal
  • Remove the trays and tray holder and clean out chamber of any debris
  • Unplug and keep the door ajar

X-ray machines

  • Clean regularly
  • Position the head facing downwards with a small amount of tissue underneath. This will catch any potential oil leaks 

Hot water tanks for tea and coffee

  • Many of these units are designed for constant activity. Turn it on every now and again

Don’t forget

  • When the time comes to reopening the practice, dental staff should test their waterlines as per the usual CQC protocols. This is to ensure there is no biofilm build up.
  • Any concerns, questions or queries about shutting down apparatus can be directed at equipment dealers.

Murray Welch, service manager at Anglian Dental, said: ‘With correct maintenance many pieces of dental equipment will be fine.

‘Following a few simple tips will massively help protect your practice and save you significant sums of money and down time when you are ready to re-open your surgeries.’

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