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Technology is one of the biggest investments that a dental practice will make, and intraoral sensors are among one of the first tools dentists invest in before going 100 percent digital. There are many considerations when choosing a sensor: size/sizes, integration, service and support, return on investment, and cost. To protect your investment, ongoing sensor care and maintenance are critical right from the start.
The most common reason for sensor failure is a user’s improper handling of the sensor and/or cable. That is why today’s digital intraoral sensors should be designed to withstand years of normal daily use.
There are many dos and don’ts that both novice and expert sensor users should know, some of which we will explore in more detail. Following is a quick checklist of what you should and should not do with a sensor.
- Handle the sensor as gently as possible.
- Always use a new sheath with every patient.
- Grasp both connector and interface when disconnecting sensor from interface.
- Store sensor in a holster when not in use.
- Disinfect sensor after each use with only the approved disinfectant.
- Keep sensor off the floor at all times.
- Make sure the sensor is backed by great service and support.
- Use only the correct positioners.
- Handle the sensor gently.
- Coil sensor cables.
- Let cable hang where it can be stepped on or become tangled.
- Let the cable hang near a drawer where it can become kinked/crimped.
- Pull on the sensor cable to remove the sheath.
- Tangle cable during use.
- Let the patient bite down hard on the sensor or cable. Ask patient to close gently.
- Clamp a hemostat to the sensor.
- Autoclave the sensor.
- Soak the sensor.
Always cover the sensor with the recommended sheath. Simply slide the sensor into the barrier, pushing it all the way to the end making sure that the upper part of the cable is covered. The sheath should fit snuggly to provide a secure barrier around the sensor.
The protective sheaths are for single use only and must NOT be reused under any circumstance for obvious reasons. Reuse may result in patient infection or illness. Do NOT place a sensor into the patient’s mouth without a barrier and never use a damaged sheath.
Please be very careful when removing the sensor from the sheath. It is suggested that users wrap the sensor around their wrist away from their scrubs to prevent the sensor from falling on the floor, pinch the barrier off at the top and it should easily slide off the sensor.
Cleaning and disinfecting
Sensors should be thoroughly cleaned after each use with the recommended disinfectant only. Check the user’s guide to ensure proper disinfectant techniques. For example, Sirona recommends using Cavi-Wipes pre-moistened towelettes to disinfect the Schick 33 sensor. Follow the instructions on the back of the cleaning product, but when wiping down the sensor and cable, make sure to wipe toward the sensor head or the sensor connection to prevent cable damage.
It is best to store the sensor on a wall-mounted holster in a safe and dry location. This keeps it out of the way and minimizes the risk of damage. Place the sensor into the holder and loosely drape the cable around it once to keep it from kinking or coiling. Do not hang a sensor by the cable. This will cause damage that can compromise the sensor’s capabilities.
Finding the right technology for a practice requires research, investment and care. As more dental professionals implement digital intraoral radiography into their practices, dental assistants should be sure to not only become educated on proper use, but also proper care. This awareness will help take the investment that much further.
Note: This article was published in Hygiene Tribune U.S. Edition, Vol. 9, No. 5, June 2016 issue.
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