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It is very important to organize a proper disposal of dental waste so as to safeguard staff, patients, and the public, and also to protect the environment. Each state has its laws, because of that reason you should check with your dental waste disposal provider to make sure you are compliant or not. However, there are a few guidelines that should be followed by every dental practice.

Soft soiled waste disposal

Blood and body fluid precautions are planned to decrease the risk of spreading diseases such as Hepatitis C and D. Following these precautions means safely disposing of soiled soft waste generated in your procedure room. You will be supplied with small and large red bags or other red waste receptacles by your dental waste disposal provider. You are obliged to place the soft soiled waste, such as blood or saliva-saturated cotton or gauze, extracted teeth, and surgically removed hard and soft tissue in the small red bags. The small bags must be kept close at hand in every procedure room. This minimizes staff and patient exposure to dental waste. When they are full (but never to overflow), seal or fasten the bags shut and place them in the larger red bag or receptacle for pick-up.

Mercury – containing amalgam disposal

Dental amalgam is of particular concern because of the potential for mercury in the amalgam to be released into the environment, where it is especially toxic to fish (the leached mercury accumulates in their tissues).

America Dental Association (ADA) developed “Best Management Practices for Amalgam Waste” (BMPs) aimed to help dentists safely recycle Amalgam wastes. These best practices for handling and disposing of amalgam waste include the following:

  • Choose different sized amalgam capsules (individually-dosed containers of amalgam) if you want to reduce waste. Be convinced to dispose of used amalgam capsules as well as amalgam scrap (the excess mix left over after the procedure.) in an appropriate way.
  • The ADA does not recommend using bulk elemental mercury (liquid or raw mercury). If there exist a bulk elemental mercury in your office, ask your dental waste disposal provider whether they accept bulk mercury. It can’t be poured down the drain or placed in the red bag where you normally place soft soiled waste, nor mixed in with your regular solid waste.
  • It is safe to use of chair side traps and filters in your office vacuum system to control and monitor dental amalgam. Disposable—rather than reusable – amalgam traps are preferable. Check with your dental waste disposal provider to see if they accept disposable amalgam traps together with your other amalgam waste.
  • Staff must wear protective uniform such as utility work gloves, fluid resistant face masks, and safety glasses while handling amalgam
  • You are advised to use the designated sealed receptacle marked for amalgam waste given to you by your dental waste disposal provider. Ask your provider about what can and should be placed in this container.
  • Select a provider who complying with the ADI-ANSI standard.

Dental sharps disposal

Disposing of dental sharps is the same as with medical sharps – put needles, scalpels, glass capsules, burs, acid etch tips, files, blades, orthodontic wire, etc. into designated sharps containers. You should always keep these containers close at hand and be careful to not overfill them.

Chemicals, disinfectants and sterilizing agents disposal

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must be checked in order to ensure safe handling and disposal of all chemicals, disinfectants and sterilizing agents. Stay away from using chemical sterilant; instead opt for steam or dry heat to sterilize your instruments. Sterilant occluded cloths or paper products, as well as emptied, rinsed sterilant containers can be placed with your regular solid waste.

Silver and lead waste disposal

A special attention should be paid to the Silver and lead waste disposal evoked first of all through X-ray film and related equipment. They include:Spent X-ray fixer solution (used to develop X-rays), Undeveloped X-ray film, Lead foil in X-ray packets, Lead aprons

You must not throw them into garbage, down the sink or in with compost. If you want to get rid of them call your dental waste disposal provider and ask whether they handle these particular silver and lead wastes.

It is the best and useful way to assure your staff and patients that you are protecting their health and safety and being mindful of your impact on the environment.