Decontamination of tried-in orthodontic molar bands

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Molar bands are commonly used to retain orthodontic attachments on posterior teeth and due to the variation in the size of such teeth, it is usually necessary to ‘try in’ several bands before the correct one is selected. A possible concern with re-using such bands is the lack of cross-infection control, even following autoclaving, due to the presence of one or more small bore lumen (the archwire and headgear tubes). The aim of this experiment was, therefore, to determine whether such bands could be successfully decontaminated so that they could be re-used without a cross-infection risk.Two hundred orthodontic molar bands that had previously been tried in patients' mouths, but not cemented into place, were tested. Each band was decontaminated using an enzymatic cleaner/disinfectant and then sterilized using either a downward displacement (n=100) or a vacuum cycle autoclave (n=100). Following autoclaving each band was inoculated into brain heart infusion culture broth and incubated at 37°C for 5 days. None of the decontaminated bands exhibited growth after 5 days. It would appear that, using this methodology, there is little risk of a cross-infection hazard occurring with the re-use of previously tried-in and decontaminated molar bands.

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