Reusable vs. Disposable Devices: The Pros and Cons
Posted in Company on February 26, 2021
by Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH
With so many dental devices on the market, it is challenging to know what is right for your practice. It can be hard to determine the most important features and whether you want something reusable or disposable. Here are some factors to take into consideration when deciding what will work best for your practice.
There is no question, dental professionals must have instruments clean, sterilized, and ready to go. We are all busy providing the best patient care, but we cannot compromise safety. To keep things clean and meet the required infection prevention standards, practices should have well-documented standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place for sterilization, especially if reusable items are used in the clinic. Depending on your practice, maintaining these standards for reusable instruments could become an issue since they require following proper instructions for cleaning/sterilization, ensuring they are not accidentally thrown in the trash, and confirming each team member is on board. A breakdown in the sterilization process could have catastrophic consequences for the patient and the practice.
Although single-use instruments may appear wasteful on the surface, they could be safer. No two patients will use the same tool, eliminating most of the worry about cross-contamination. The CDC suggests that single-use items are the best for treating patients to avoid infection transmission.
Your team needs to know if a product is single or multiple-use because with reusable tools the risk for cross-contamination is slightly higher than with disposable. 
When it comes to single-use anything, there is a direct threat to the environment. Disposing of dental waste may seem small, but it does add up in the long run. Using disposable tools increases your footprint, not only because of the item you use on the patient, but also the packaging it comes in, the shipping to get it to the distributor and eventually to you.
The pro and con breakdown
Reusables reduce the amount of waste accumulated over time. They do not require replacement often, ensuring you have them on hand at all times. Costs can decrease with reusable products because reordering is less frequent, and single-use item’s expenses could fluctuate.
When people attend a healthcare practice, they want to leave infection-free. With reusable tools, the risk for cross-contamination is slightly higher than with disposable. For reusables to work, employees must receive proper training and closely follow the instructions for use for the reusable tools.
Whichever you decide to use in your practice, ensure that the necessary precautions, SOPs, and training are in place to reach the highest possible infection control standards, protecting your patients, employees, and your practice.
 “Sterilisation in Dentistry: A Review of the Literature – NCBI.” 15 Jan. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6350571/. Accessed 8 Sep. 2020.
 “Single-Use (Disposable) Devices | FAQs | Infection Control ….” https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/faqs/single-use-devices.html. Accessed 8 Sep. 2020.
 “SINGLE-USE (DISPOSABLE) DEVICES | Registered Dental ….” 1 Jul. 2012, https://www.rdhmag.com/infection-control/disinfection/article/16405788/singleuse-disposable-devices. Accessed 8 Sep. 2020.
 “The environmental impact of dentistry – ResearchGate.” https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6509267_The_environmental_impact_of_dentistry. Accessed 8 Sep. 2020.
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