Single-use items: Let’s follow the instructions for use, please

While you may be tempted to run single-use items through the sterilization process and use them again, don’t do it. Michelle Strange, MSDH, RDH, explains how infection control can be compromised.



Single-use items are designated to be just that—single use. While using them more than once after running them through a sterilization process may be tempting, there’s a big reason why that shouldn’t happen: it is a violation of the manufacturer’s instructions for use.


Single-use tools and items can indeed appear to be wasteful and costly for the dental practice. However, the money- and waste-saving capabilities of using these items after processing and sterilization do not outweigh the severe risk of infection that can come if even a tiny number of bacteria manage to make it through the sterilization process.


There are specific guidelines set out for the proper use of single-use items. The issue is, not everyone is following these guidelines. When using single-use items more than once, dental professionals run the risk of having basic infection prevention procedures break down.

In some cases, more frequent training may be necessary to ensure that all dental professionals are hyperaware of the instructions for each single-use item and understand just how vital following these instructions is for infection control and prevention.


Why is infection prevention so important?