The All Points Blog

31 July 2017

Dos and Don’ts: Dental Waste Disposal

Preventing injury and illness in your dental practice

As a dental provider, your patient’s health is of the utmost importance—and clearly the focus of what you do every day. Ensuring that you’re following the proper procedures when it comes to disposing of your waste is an important facet to keeping your patients and your staff safe and remaining compliant with state and federal regulations.
Here are some key considerations for dental waste disposal:

Amalgam

Because of its potential to contain mercury and other chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment, amalgam is one dental substance that requires extra care. The American Dental Association (ADA) has very specific guidelines for the disposal of this substance and it’s crucial to work with a dental waste provider that is well versed in these procedures. One key consideration is to use individually-dosed amalgam, this allows you to have just the right amount for each procedure, which reduces waste. Of course, any left over amalgam after treating a patient needs to be discarded in its own receptacle and not mixed in with other types of waste.

Soiled soft waste

Blood and saliva stained gauze, soft and hard tissue and cotton that has been in a patient’s mouth should be carefully placed inside special containers lined with red bio-waste bags provided by your medical waste disposal company. These items carry bodily fluids that have many germs and could potentially infect staff or other patients. Your treatment and examining rooms should have the right size containers—and should always be emptied before overflowing. If a patient undergoes an extraction and does not wish to take the tooth with them (some children do), the removed tooth must be disposed of in a bio-waste container and never thrown in with the regular trash.

Gloves, masks and medical gowns

Even if there is no visible evidence of blood or bodily fluids, gloves, masks and medical gowns, as well as patient bibs used for cleanings and treatments, need to be disposed of correctly to reduce risk. Be sure your staff understands the importance of discarding used items like these properly and that are never reused, even if they appear to be clean.

Dental sharps

Just like medical sharps; any needles, wires or other sharps used in your dental practice should be placed in a designated sharps container. Treatment rooms should be well-equipped with these containers and just like all the other bio-hazard containers, should never be overfilled.

X-ray related waste

Although digital x-rays are becoming the norm, if your dental practice is still performing them the old-fashioned way, it’s likely you have machinery and materials that contain lead and silver—two potentially dangerous elements if not handled properly.
X-ray films, lead aprons, x-ray solution, un-developed films and other equipment should never be disposed of in regular trash bins. Make sure you discuss your needs with your medical waste provider to arrange for the proper disposal of these items.

Dental waste is just as hazardous as other forms of medical waste and must be disposed of appropriately each and every time. The All Points Medical Waste team is specially trained and certified and can manage all of your hazardous waste disposal. For a free quote and to learn more about our services, give us a call at 772.283.4152 or fill our our online request form.