Evaluation of the effectiveness of decontamination of dental syringes

K. Vickery*, A. Pajkos, Y. Cossart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Steam autoclaving is the gold standard for decontaminating dental instruments, but worldwide disinfection is still widely employed. We have evaluated a range of procedures for their ability to inactivate duck hepatitis B virus contaminating dental syringes. Methods: Residual infectivity of virus suspensions following 2% glutaraldehyde treatment, ultrasonication or steam sterilisation at 121° or 134° was assayed by injecting day-old ducklings and examining their livers for viral DNA 2.5 weeks later. Dental syringes were contaminated with DHBV positive blood, then treated by the same methods. An anaesthetic cartridge containing water was loaded into the syringe and 400μl aliquots used to inject day-old ducklings. Used dental syringes were examined by Scanning Electron Microscopy. Results: Suspension test:- ultrasonic treatment failed to inactivate DHBV in suspension, but complete inactivation was achieved by 2% glutaraldehyde and autoclaving. Syringe test:-neither ultrasonic treatment nor glutaraldehyde inactivated DHBV. Autoclaving at 134° (3 minutes) permitted transmission to 1/16 ducklings but steam sterilisation at 121° (15 minutes) was effective. Electronmicroscopy demonstrated organic debris (biofilm) in the lumen of used syringes. Conclusion: Short autoclaving cycles, albeit at raised temperatures, may fail to inactivate the virus because of poor steam penetration, inadequate heat transfer and the accumulation of protective biofilm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-624
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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