Repidheat Sterilization VS Steam Sterilization Of Dental Handpieces

Posted on: February 1, 2020

The RH-Pro11 Sterilizer incorporates the High-Velocity Hot Air (“HVHA”) principle of sterilization which is a waterless, non-corrosive technology and completely safe for the sterilization of most dental handpieces. With a sterilizer chamber temperature of 3750F and an internal pouch (wrap) temperature of 350 0F, HVHA sterilizers and their short cycles have been demonstrated in comprehensive ISO standards testing not to have any more deleterious heat impact on dental handpieces than that of steam autoclaves.

Internal components of handpieces are built to handle the high temperature. Their constant speed and torque operation require that today’s handpieces be constructed of heat-tolerant materials such as the commonly used “Viton” O-rings and “Torlon” Bearing Cages that routinely operate at continuous temperatures exceeding 450F.

Since no water (steam) or chemicals are used in the HVHA technology, a dental handpiece life cycle can actually be extended especially when using a CPAC validated synthetic cleaner/lubricant such as CPAC’s new SteriKleen™ and SterilLube™. Improper cleaning/maintenance and residual moisture from autoclaving are known factors in shortening the life of a handpiece.

Another concern of infection control practitioners and that of the CDC is the potential cross-contamination of an improperly cleaned and sterilized dental handpiece. Bioburden left in a dental handpiece may act as a protective shield for microorganisms when handpieces are sterilized autoclave. Whereas the same bioburden microorganism may be more easily killed in an RH-Pro11 sterilizer due to its elevated temperature transferring heat faster through surface contact (via heat conduction).

STEAM AS A STERILENT IS ONLY EFFECTIVE WHEN IT WHEN IT COMES IN CONTACT WITH A SURFACE. This can be difficult if there are organic or mechanical barriers to prevent actual contact. In documented independent testing it has been shown that 47% of microbes within a handpiece motor were transferred to a prophy angle. HVHA technology with its penetrative power via conduction can materially reduce microbial bioburden and transmission of microbes to and from the motor.

Common handpiece cleaners and lubricants such as mineral oil-based products derived from refined petrochemicals should never be used in the HVHA sterilizer. It is important for any practice to examine the Safety Data Sheet of these products to determine their composition before sterilizing. Even with autoclaving, If the handpiece lubricant is not properly expelled prior to sterilization there can be gumming up with debris in the turbine with the potential for patient contamination. CPAC in partnership with a major chemical company has developed a food-grade synthetic cleaner (SteriKleen) and lubricant (SteriLube) formulated specifically for the superior protection of dental handpiece whether using RapidHeat or an autoclave.

When the HVHA RapidHeat technology was originally validated and independent tests conducted for a variety of handpieces and submitted to FDA for clearance, there was found to be no negative impact on the tested handpieces with the tests actually demonstrating a 12-Log kill reduction of spores of the external/internal mechanisms as required by FDA. CPAC continues to validate handpieces through testing laboratories such as The Dental Advisor.