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ACE Panel Report shows most dentists use steam sterilization for instrument reprocessing

August 16, 2019

By Mary Beth Versaci

An ADA Clinical Evaluators Panel Report released in August offers insights into the methods dentists use to reprocess rotary cutting instruments.

For the report, 345 practicing U.S. dentists and ADA members shared their usage rate of the same rotary cutting instrument and their most used cleaning methods, sterilization methods and storage approaches after sterilization.

"Overall, a majority of the dentists use steam sterilization, but some of the dentists use dry heat, chemical vapor or cold sterilization," said Dr. Jacob G. Park, a member of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs' Product Evaluation Subcommittee. "Based on recommendations from a majority of manufacturers, dentists should consider using the steam sterilization method instead of dry heat, chemical vapor or cold sterilization. Certain rotary cutting instruments, such as a diamond or carbide cutting bur, can be damaged through the potential detachment of diamond grit or corrosion problems."

Since 2014, the Food and Drug Administration has shared concerns with the dental standards community that reprocessing instructions are unclear or inadequate for diamond rotary instruments and carbide burs. In March 2015, the FDA published a guidance document on "Reprocessing Medical Devices in Health Care Settings: Validation Methods and Labeling," which recommends that manufacturers have cleaning protocols and instructions that are validated, clear and feasible or else they will have to label their multi-use instruments as single use.

The ADA is currently working on a technical report on cleanliness with input from the FDA entitled "Dentistry – Guidance on Method Development and Validation of Cleaning Processes for Dental Instruments."

Members can view the entire ACE Panel Report online at

ACE Panel Reports feature data compiled from surveys completed by ADA member dentists who have signed up to participate in short studies related to dental products, prescribing habits and other clinical topics. The Product Evaluation Subcommittee, along with ADA Science Institute staff, write the reports.

The resource aims to offer ADA members a way to understand their peers' opinions on various dental products and practices, offering insight and awareness on new products and techniques that can benefit patients and the profession.

Past ACE Panel Reports focused on antibiotic use in endodontic infections, bonding agents, dental erosion and bioactive materials. These reports are available to view online at

ADA members are invited to join the ACE Panel and contribute to upcoming surveys, which occur no more than once a month and usually take five to 10 minutes to complete.

To learn more or join the ACE Panel, visit

ACE Panel Report Reprocessing