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Autoclaving isn't Always the Only Option

Do you have trouble with corroded carbide burs? Do you have instruments that lose their edge far too quickly? You might consider a dry heat sterilizer.

The autoclave is a versatile and fast sterilizer that fits the needs of most dental offices very well, but a dry heat sterilizer can be a nice complement to your sterilization practices.

Dry heat sterilizers operate at much higher temperatures (typically 350°-375°F, so about 100°F above a typical autoclave cycle) which makes them poorly suited to some items. Dry heat sterilizers also have longer cycle times (30-60 min), so they won’t have the rapid turn-around of most autoclaves. Nonetheless, the lack of water makes them simple and easy to use. A basic dry heat sterilizer is also very inexpensive, typically $500-$700. Dry heat will not corrode instruments nor damage sharp edges as steam can. These features can make dry heat ideal for things like burs or hand instruments.

There are newer dry heat sterilizers with shorter cycle times (as short as 10 min) and with no drying cycle, they can really save time over the more traditional table-top autoclave. The price of these is similar to most autoclaves, however, so they aren't necessarily an economical alternative. All the other benefits of dry heat remain, however.

As dry heat sterilizers have no steam, that means they do not need to contain any pressure so they have larger rectangular chambers so they will hold more instruments per cycle. The footprint is equivalent to most table-top autoclaves, so they are easy to fit into your sterilization area.

If you or your staff don't have a back-up sterilizer, if you struggle with rusted instruments, or if you just want an economical alternative, dry heat can be a nice adjunct to your sterilization protocols.

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