No dental practice can function without establishing protocols for efficiently cleaning and sterilizing equipment.
As you’re likely aware, the right cleaning formula can make all the difference. If you're not happy with what you’re using now, or you’re looking to make a change, it’s worth taking a look at enzymatic cleaners.
Here's a guide describing how enzymatic cleaners can offer efficiencies to your dental practice, and how to choose the product for you.
What is an Enzymatic Cleaner?
A staple of many healthcare facilities, enzymatic cleaners are a key ingredient in the cleaning and decontamination of medical equipment, utensils, and devices.
When used in a cleaner, enzymes break down contaminants at a neutral pH, usually between 6 and 8. Enzymatic cleaners are useful as a detergent in endoscopic and sterile processing settings since the cleaner — powered by surfactants — can lift soil from devices.
The most common types of enzymes you might find in these cleaners include:
These are all proteins, made up of molecules built from amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. Due to their complex structure, enzymes don’t need to expend much energy when breaking down contaminants.
A good analogy is tunnelling one’s way through a mountain instead of trying to climb up it. You can reach the top of the mountain either way, but tunnelling is a lot more efficient!
Similarly, the contaminants on equipment and devices will break down with or without the enzymatic cleaner. But the breakdown occurs after using less energy and at a much faster pace — a reaction known as catalysis. In other words, the enzymes are catalysts for these sped-up, energy-efficient reactions.
What are the Main Benefits of Using Enzymatic Cleaners?
Enzymatic cleaners play a crucial role in breaking down and getting rid of organic contaminants at a neutral pH while reducing bioburden.
Furthermore, enzymatic cleaners decrease the mechanical actions required in tough-to-reach spots.
And, when compared to cleaners with alkaline chemistries, enzymatic cleaners are more compatible with delicate instruments.
Lastly, enzymatic cleaners can be placed into smaller, more ergonomic packaging. This is because the components are higher functioning at lower concentrations and colder temperatures than most detergents.
Factors to Consider with Enzymatic Cleaner?
The type of contaminant (e.g., blood, serum, tissue) and the amount are the first factors to consider when choosing an enzymatic cleaner.
Another factor is avoiding mechanical action when using the enzymes, which allows them to do the work themselves.
Moreover, be mindful of temperatures. For instance, the protease enzymes function best at 100 to 130° F (38 - 54° C).
You then must be aware of the type of water used during cleaning and the pH level of the product and soil. But note that enzymatic products work best when the pH ranges between 6 and 8. Here, good activity mixes with materials compatibility.
How to Handle an Enzymatic Cleaner
Step 1: Point of Use Within the Procedure Room
- Point-of-use products keep contaminants from drying, so they remain easier to clean after being transported to the processing area.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for usage to avoid staff/patient injuries.
- Know that enzymes break down proteins in living organisms, so they can be inhaled. Be cautious when spraying/aerosolizing products containing enzymes.
Step 2: Entering the Processing Area
- Instrument trays or endoscopes are manually cleaned once they arrive at the processing area.
- 2 to 3 bay sinks with pre-soak, clean, and rinse phases are needed.
- Tap water will work during pre-soaking and rinsing--but, ideally, these phases include enzymatic detergent.
- Surgical contaminants are broken down by the enzymes, and an SPD technician cleans the instruments manually. They’ll use a brush or something similar.
- After this process, all devices and instruments are taken to an ultrasonic washer or automated washer/disinfector.
Step 3: The Washing Phases
- With ultrasonic washing, enzymatic cleaners are used throughout the cleaning cycle. Medical devices are more thoroughly cleaned this way.
- Automated washers and disinfectors are used when ultrasonic washing isn’t necessary.
- After pre-washing, enzymatic detergents are used in the first wash phase, breaking down the soils still sticking to the equipment and devices.
- During the second phase, a neutral/alkaline detergent breaks down organic and inorganic soils. A rinse should follow.
- Thermal disinfection is provided by an automated washer, thus making the device clean, sterile, and safe.
Finding the Right Enzymatic Cleaner For You
Don’t just take our word for it. If you are in the market for enzyme cleaners, we recommend you conduct your own research according to your requirements and needs.
One of the products we do recommend is Bio-Pure: a dual-purpose enzymatic and microbial cleaner designed to save your practice time and money.
Bio-Pure Ultrasonic 3-in-1 Presoak & Cleaner formula contains both enzymes and microbes that work in tandem to break down and digest solids where sulfur-producing bacteria normally thrive. This unique, proprietary, environmentally-friendly formula safely removes blood, tissue, proteins and contaminants from instruments, burs, dentures, handpieces, aspirator tips, metal parts, bridges, diamonds, orthodontic appliances, gold work, porcelain, crowns, ultrasonic tips and much more.
Bio-Pure is also available as an evacuation system cleaner, where it works 24/7 digesting organic waste through the entire system. What the microbes and enzymes cannot digest is loosened and easily flushed through. Bio-Pure will restore your pipes, and with continued use of Bio-Pure your vacuum suction will perform at full pump capacity.
With Bio-Pure, you’ll find that unclogging suction lines is headache-free. You’ll also notice that instruments come out of the washer noticeably cleaner, extending their shelf-life and reducing maintenance time.
Enzymatic cleaners are great, but the combination of enzymes and microbes is worlds better than enzymes alone!