How to Properly Dispose of Dental Waste

dentist, dental waste

In all areas of healthcare, appropriately disposing of waste is extremely important. If managed incorrectly, waste can cause harm to the environment and public health – as well as doing untold damage to your professional reputation. So it’s vital you deal with all waste in a responsible manner. 

Like other areas of healthcare, dental surgeries produce a variety of waste products, all of which require different disposal methods. 

The team at Envirotec Hygiene Services are experts in all manner of waste disposal, and we’ve put together a guide on how to safely and efficiently manage waste at your dental practice.    

What type of waste does dental work produce?

It may seem obvious, but dental work produces a wide range of harmful waste products. The most common are clinical waste and amalgam waste which require different disposal approaches. 

Clinical waste refers to products that include human or animal tissue, blood or bodily fluids. This sort of waste can also come in the form of pharmaceutical products such as dressings, syringes and needles. This waste is classified as ‘hazardous’ if it can cause harm to the environment or humans. Other forms of clinical waste include offensive waste products which is used to describe waste that is unpleasant, but not necessarily harmful.   

In regards to amalgam waste, this focuses on waste that is contaminated by amalgam. Specific to the dental industry, amalgam is a combination of liquid mercury and a metal alloy that is regularly used in dentistry to treat tooth cavities. The mercury element of amalgam is what causes it to be hazardous.

Other waste products that need to be safely disposed of include needles and sharp objects as well as gypsum dental moulds that can produce toxic gases in landfill. 

How to correctly dispose of dental waste?

Depending on what waste you’re dealing with, your disposal approach will differ. 

Clinical waste products can fall into a number of different categories. But if you’re looking to discard of human waste following your dental work, the first thing you should do is place it in a designated yellow bag. Next, it should be clearly marked, discarded of when it’s ¾ full and kept in a safe place until it’s removed by your waste disposal team. 

When it comes to amalgam waste, it should be placed in a specialist container that includes a solution that suppresses mercury. This means that the dental team won’t be exposed to harmful mercury vapours. As well as this, it’s necessary to incorporate an amalgam separator into dentist chairs and sinks. Your amalgam container should be changed and replaced at regular intervals.      

For sharp objects, like needles, it is important that your dental practice has sharp waste bins in place. There are different bins for needles that are contaminated by medicines and those that are not, so it’s important to dispose of these in the correct place to prevent them from going to the wrong place once they leave your premises. 

Keeping your paperwork in order

Whatever type of waste you’re dealing with, it’s important they’re accompanied by the correct documentation. For non-hazardous waste, you can get an annual waste transfer note that will cover all non-hazardous waste for a year. 

For hazardous waste, you’ll need a special waste consignment which includes the address of your site, information on all personnel involved in the waste disposal, a description of the waste and a Correct European Waste Catalogue. Not complying with the regulations means you’re breaking the law and run the risk of a hefty fine. 

Our team at Envirotec Hygiene Services have years of experience in all areas of waste management. This includes dental waste, and we can help you dispose of all your dental waste correctly. For more information, contact our team today.  

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