Five Ways to Keep Your Instruments Looking and Working Like New
It happens to us all. You return from the recent convention having purchased a spiffy set of new pliers. They look fantastic when they arrive; shiny and spectacular! The techs run them through sterilization and place them into circulation. Just two weeks later they look…a little ill. Within a few months, the luster is gone and they look more like a rusty backyard swing set.
So why did this happen? And more importantly, how can you prevent it from happening again? Whether you use dry-heat, steam or statim, here are some tried-and-true ways to keep your pliers in tip-top condition.
Know what you’re buying. Pliers are made of two key components: the forging (handle) and the insert (tip). Ask your supplier what type of stainless steel forging is used and what type of insert material is placed in the tip. High-end carbide and other premium metals will look better, last longer and age better than steel. Similarly, true German-grade stainless steel forging will perform better over time than just about anything else out there.
Always use distilled water throughout the entire sterilization process. Many dental and orthodontic offices follow this rule in the ultra-sonic machine, but then rinse with tap water. Each community’s tap water consists of different elements that may react oddly when the plier is placed in high temperatures.
Not all ultrasonic solutions are the same. All cleaners have similar ingredients found on their safety data sheets, i.e. Pentahydrates and Isopropanol. However, ultrasonic solutions are not standardized and only some are made with safe and effective, anti-corrosive enzymes, polishing enzymes, and lubricating enzymes.
During sterilization, separate the corroded ‘sick’ pliers from the ‘healthy’ ones. It might sound silly, but ‘sick’ pliers can actually be ‘contagious’ and leave a residue or surface rust on healthy pliers.
Invest in workhorses like distal end cutters and pin and ligature cutters. These pliers have a much more critical function…staying sharp. The forging and, most importantly, the insert material need to hold up and be corrosive resistant. Utility instruments, such as Weingarts and Bird Beaks, do not necessarily have to be inserted. It’s much more likely for the insert to discolor through sterilization rather than the forging. There are great options in either inserted or non-inserted utility pliers, but these do not go through the wear and tear of cutting instruments.
By taking proper care of your instruments you can work easier knowing that they will take care of you!