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Disinfecting Your Dental X-Ray Machine

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Renew Digital often gets questions from our customers about how to properly clean and disinfect their pan-ceph or cone beam dental X-ray machine. Many disinfectants can yellow or damage surfaces and sensitive machine components. How do you know what is safe to use but will still get the job done? Here are our tips and tricks to keep your patients and staff safe by practicing standard precaution and manufacturer-recommended disinfection protocols for your dental X-ray machine.

What Are Standard Precautions?

Standard precautions, also called universal precautions, are practices used to control infection. They are designed to protect dental professionals, their staff and their patients from disease exposure through blood and certain bodily fluids such as saliva. When you use standard precautions, you essentially presume that all human blood and saliva are known to be infectious. This means that everything you do to protect against cross-contamination is performed for all patients. The American Dental Association and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention routinely stress the important of standard precautions because many patients may be unaware that they are carriers of infectious diseases, or may not share this information with you.

Steps of Standard Precautions for Dental X-Ray Machines

When you are handling extraoral dental X-ray machines, be sure to take the following steps of standard precautions.

Wear Gloves During All Radiographic Procedures

Wearing gloves is the best way to prevent contamination between a patient and dental staff member. All dentists and clinical team members should remove their disposable gloves and wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds between different patients. Put on new gloves in front of the patient, if possible, so they are aware of the steps you take to protect their health.

Disinfect and Cover Clinical Contact Surfaces

Any surface that might be touched by gloves, hands, or instruments that go into the mouth are considered to be clinical contact surfaces. Examples include the dental X-ray machine control panel, touch screens, exposure buttons, acquisition computer, patient positioning tools, and lead apron. According to the CDC, these are noncritical items because they are objects that might come in contact with saliva, blood, or intact skin, but not oral or mucous membranes.

To prevent cross-contamination, use barriers to isolate equipment from direct contact. An effective barrier for countertops and the X-ray control console is plastic wrap. Don’t forget to include the exposure switch with plastic or a plastic bag when covering the X-ray control console. Barriers should also cover working surfaces that were previously cleaned and disinfected to protect the underlying surface from becoming contaminated. If a barrier is damaged, it should be replaced immediately. All barriers should be changed after each patient.

The lead apron should be cleaned, disinfected, and covered between patient uses. You may wish to store the apron on a heavy coat hanger so that it can spin around for easier cleaning. Spray it with a detergent that contains disinfectant, then wipe it and cover it with a plastic garment bag. Avoid touching walls and other surfaces with contaminated gloves.

Extraoral dental X-ray machines such as panoramic, cephalometric, and cone beam systems, should use the same standard precautions for decontamination and disinfection as the other equipment in your practice. Be sure to switch the X-ray unit off before cleaning or disinfecting. Never apply sprays or liquids directly on the surfaces of the X-ray machine. Instead, apply a small amount of cleaner to a clean paper towel and use it to wipe the surface of the machine. Alternatively, you may use an alcohol-based wipe that is safe for electronics. We do not recommend any Cavicide products for dental X-ray machines because they are extremely corrosive and can cause irreparable damage to X-ray machine covers or electrical components.

Panoramic and/or CBCT bite-blocks, chin rests, and patient hand grips should all be cleaned using detergent-iodine disinfectant and then covered with plastic. To further prevent contamination, you may wish to use disposable bite-blocks. The head positioning guides, control panel, and exposure switch should be carefully wiped with a paper towel that is well moistened with a non-corrosive disinfectant, or with an alcohol-based wipe.

While positioning and posing the patient, be sure to wear disposable gloves. You should remember to remove the gloves before handling removable extraoral X-ray sensors or other X-ray components that can’t be disinfected and should not be handled with contaminated gloves. Please note that you should not use cleaning solutions on extraoral X-ray sensors or sensor surfaces.

Cephalometric ear post, ear post brackets, and forehead supports and/or nation pointers should all be cleaned and disinfected with an iodine-detergent disinfectant. These devices should also be covered in plastic for patient and changed after each use.

After all patient exposures are complete, the barriers should be removed and any contaminated surfaces should be re-disinfected. The lead apron should be sprayed with disinfectant and wiped as described above.

Keep Your Staff and Patients Safe

We hope you found these tips helpful. It’s important for the entire community that infectious diseases are not spread. Healthcare environments are a primary source of contamination but following standard precautions allows us to minimize the spread of bacteria and viruses and keep our staff, patients, and community safe and healthy.

For questions about properly cleaning and disinfecting your Renew Digital dental X-ray machine, please contact Support at 888-246-5611, and press option 3 for assistance.

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