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100 Craig Road • Suite 106 • Manalapan, NJ • 07726 • (732) 431-2888

Sunbeam Dental, LLC
Dr. John Mamoun, DMD
Fellow, Academy of General Dentistry

Internaionally Published Author

100 Craig Road,
Suite 106
Manalapan, NJ 07726
(732) 431-2888

For Patients:

Business Hours:

Monday: 8am-8pm
Tuesday: 8am-10am
Wednesday: 8am-10am
Thursday: Closed
Friday: 8am-8pm
Saturday: 8am-8pm
Sunday: 8am-8pm

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Sunbeam Dental, LLC
Dr. John Mamoun, DMD, FAGD
Office Sterilization Policy

As a patient, you are no doubt concerned that, in choosing a health care professional, that professional will treat your health problems in a way that is both competent and clean. The latter is especially important in a dental office, where the dentist works in peoples' mouths all day long. Mouths are not the cleanest of body cavities, so a dentist must take careful measures to maintain a clean dental office environment. Rest assured, that in my office I share your concerns. Accordingly, I adopt the following practices as part of my office sterilization policy:

In my office, I use a state-of-the-art computer-controlled steam autoclave (or sterilization device) to sterilize all instruments used in patients' mouths. This device heats instruments to about 250-275 degrees with a pressure of 30 pounds per square inch, during a pre-programmed computer-controlled sterilization cycle. This harsh combination of high temperature and pressure kills viruses, bacteria, fungi, and destroys two other sources of disease, bacterial spores and prions, that are considered the most difficult pathogens to sterilize. The process kills off all disease viruses such as HIV, Herpes, Hepatitis, the Flu, etc. Before instruments are placed in the autoclave for sterilization, they are examined and cleaned to ensure that they are not coated with debris, dried cement, blood or any other items that can hinder the sterilization process.

Any item which cannot be sterilized is either disposable (and is used once and then thrown away), or is carefully cleaned and treated with a strong disinfectant that neutralizes the main disease pathogens and viruses. Generally, I try whenever possible to only buy and use instruments that can be sterilized in a steam autoclave, since this is the most definitive form of sterilization. I do not use chemical or dry heat sterilization devices, since in my view they are not as fool-proof as steam autoclaving; these devices can be used successfully to sterilize instruments, but there is a greater chance of the sterilization process not being 100% successful without a perfect sterilization technique.

After they are sterilized, items are stored in dust-proof drawers until they are used. They are unwrapped from their sterilization paper packets only during the patient's visit.

The computer-controlled autoclave is tested once per week to ensure that it is effective at killing off disease-causing pathogens. We have an autoclave testing contract with the Baylor College of Dentistry in Texas to test the device; they provide us with test strips containing hardy organisms, that we place in the autoclave in order to test its effectiveness.

Additional sterilization and disinfection measures include:

  • Hand-pieces (drills) and drill bits are always sterilized between patients. I do not believe that it is possible to reliably disinfect a hand-piece that is used in a patient's mouth, unless it is steam autoclaved.

  • All treatment room surfaces that are potentially contaminated during a patient visit (counter-tops, drawers, handles, x-ray machines, buttons or switches, vacuum and suction devices) are wiped down with a strong disinfectant between patients. (These surfaces obviously cannot be sterilized).

  • Plastic-backed paper is generally placed on counter-tops, and instruments placed over this paper, to prevent instruments from directly contacting the counter-top in the first place, making the counter-tops easier to disinfect.

  • Gloves are changed when they become excessively soiled or wet, to prevent contamination of treatment room surfaces. Gloves prevent contact of contaminants with the dentist's hands. Hand-washing between patients also prevents contamination, as discovered by Semmelweis in the 19th century.

  • Certain kinds of volatile chemicals that may be used during dental practice are stored in sealed containers in a room in the office that has a ventilation device, to prevent these volatile chemicals from evaporating into the office air.

  • The office has a zero-tolerance policy for contaminated residues that get onto surfaces in the treatment rooms. Such residues are immediately wiped away using disinfectant prior to the next patient visit.

  • Office staff are trained not to reach into drawers to obtain supplies unless they remove any contaminated gloves that they may be wearing, and instead use their clean hands to handle such supplies.

  • A central office axiom is: use barriers to prevent contaminants from touching treatment room surfaces to begin with, and do not touch treatment room surfaces using contaminated gloves.

  • Anesthetic needles are, of course, only used once and are then discarded in a specially constructed re-enforced container for storing used sharp instruments such as needles. These contaminated sharp items are never thrown into the mainstream trash but are always stored in such sharps containers. When the containers are about 3/4 full, they are shipped to a disposal facility that safely disposes of the sharp materials.

Following the above measures helps to ensure that the patient's treatment experience is safe and clean, as well as an improvement of oral and dental health. With careful observance of sterilization and cross-contamination principles, it is essentially impossible to transmit disease in a dental office.

One disease in particular, AIDS, and the virus that causes it, HIV, are virtually impossible to transmit in a dental office. This is because the HIV virus is almost immediately destroyed due to simple exposure to the oxygen in the air. Within 30 seconds, even without steam autoclaving, HIV tends to be completely destroyed on any instrument that it may contaminate.

An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure when it comes to preventing cross-contamination in a health-care facility.


John Mamoun, DMD, FAGD