Instrument Processing for Infection Prevention

Cost: $39.00
ADA Credits: 3

AGD Credits: 3
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Educational Objectives

The overall objective of this article is to provide the reader with information on instrument processing. On completing this article, the reader will be able to do the following:

1. Define the elements of the chain of infection;

2. Delineate and describe the differences in the processing of critical, semicritical and noncritical instruments;

3. Review the use of presoaks and cleaning of instruments; 

4. List and describe heat sterilization options and appropriate sterilization packaging; and

5. Review the uses and purposes of chemical and biological indicators.


Safe and effective instrument processing is a key element of the infection prevention cycle. This process must meet CDC guidelines and OSHA requirements. The steps in instrument processing include cleaning and sterilizing the instruments. Their treatment depends on whether they are critical, semicritical or noncritical. Critical and heat-resistant critical instruments must be heat-sterilized, and handpieces must be autoclaved. Prior to heat sterilization, instruments are wrapped in appropriate FDA-cleared sterilization packaging, which must include chemical indicators. Sterilization processes must be tested for sterility assurance and all sterilization records maintained.

Fiona M. Collins, BDS, MBA, MA

Fiona M. Collins, BDS, MBA, MA, FPFA, is a graduate of the University of Glasgow Dental School, Scotland and holds an MBA and MA from Boston University. She is a published author in the areas of infection control, dental caries and prevention, dentifrices, biofilm, patient compliance and tobacco cessation. She has lectured nationally and internationally on these topics and given presentations in North America, Europe, the Pacific Rim and the Middle East. During her career, she has lived and worked in five countries. Dr. Collins is a faculty member at OSAP CORE Boot Camp meetings, the continuing education editor for Dental Learning, editor of the Pierre Fauchard Academy’s ‘Dental World’ newsletter and a consultant. She is a Fellow of the Pierre Fauchard Academy and a member of the American Dental Association, the ADA Standards Committee working groups on dental terminology and sterilizers, and the Organization for Asepsis, Safety and Prevention (OSAP). Dr. Collins lives in Colorado with her husband.

SPONSOR/PROVIDER: This is a Dental Learning, LLC continuing education activity. No manufacturer or third party has had any input into the development of course content.

DESIGNATION STATEMENTS: Dental Learning, LLC is an ADA CERP recognized provider. ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry. Dental Learning, LLC designates this activity for 3 CE credits. Dental Learning, LLC is also designated as an Approved PACE Program Provider by the Academy of General Dentistry. The formal continuing education programs of this program provider are accepted by AGD for Fellowship, Mastership, and membership maintenance credit. Approval does not imply acceptance by a state or provincial board of dentistry or AGD endorsement. The current term of approval extends from 2/1/2012 - 1/31/2016. Provider ID: # 346890. Dental Learning, LLC is a Dental Board of California CE provider. The California Provider number is RP5062. This course meets the Dental Board of California’s requirements for 3 units of continuing education.

EDUCATIONAL METHODS: This course is a self-instructional journal and web activity. Information shared in this course is based on current information and evidence.

REGISTRATION: The cost of this CE course is $39.00 for 3 CE credits.


REVIEW DATE: June 2015.


REQUIREMENTS FOR SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION: To obtain 3 CE credits for this educational activity, participants must pay the required fee, review the material, complete the course evaluation and obtain a score of at least 70%.

AUTHENTICITY STATEMENT: The images in this course have not been altered.

SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY STATEMENT: Information shared in this continuing education activity is developed from clinical research and represents the most current information available from evidenced-based dentistry.

KNOWN BENEFITS AND LIMITATIONS: Information in this continuing education activity is derived from data and information obtained from the reference section.

EDUCATIONAL DISCLAIMER: Completing a single continuing education course does not provide enough information to result in the participant being an expert in the field related to the course topic. It is a combination of many educational courses and clinical experience that allows the participant to develop skills and expertise.

PROVIDER DISCLOSURE: Dental Learning, LLC does not have a leadership position or a commercial interest in any products that are mentioned in this article. No manufacturer or third party has had any input into the development of course content.

CE PLANNER DISCLOSURE: The planner of this course, Casey Warner does not have a leadership or commercial interest in any products that are mentioned in this article or any other products or services discussed in this educational activity. She can be reached at

TARGET AUDIENCE: This course was written for dentists, dental hygienists, and assistants, from novice to skilled.

CANCELLATION/REFUND POLICY: Any participant who is not 100% satisfied with this course can request a full refund by contacting Dental Learning, LLC, in writing. Please direct all questions pertaining to Dental Learning, LLC or the administration of this course to

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