What You Need to Know About Dental Waste Disposal
As with any medical waste, dental waste must be disposed of properly to protect humans and the environment. You will find four main kinds of dental waste, and each one must be handled in a unique way according to strict guidelines.
Disposing of Amalgam Waste
Amalgam is defined as multiple metals that have been bonded together by mercury, which is toxic. This type of waste includes scrap amalgam, vacuum pump filters with amalgam, saliva ejectors, extracted teeth which used amalgam in restoration and other items that contain amalgam. Improper disposal could allow amalgam to get into the water sources and environment, which would cause a negative impact to the area.
This type of waste is separated from other dental waste and follows an amalgam recycling program. It must go to a facility where the metal is melted and recycled. The EPA requires all dental offices to have an amalgam separator to contain this metal.
Along with amalgam, dental offices may come in contact with lead and silver products. X-ray pockets and aprons include lead foil, which can contaminate the environment if not disposed of properly.
Disposing of Hazardous Waste
Dental waste that can be classified as hazardous is anything that could be a major threat to the health of the public or the environment. It must be either toxic, corrosive, reactive or ignitable. It may be a solid, gas or liquid.
Special barriers may be necessary to dispose of hazardous dental waste. It cannot be washed down the sink or placed in trash cans. Gauze that has been soaked by blood is considered biohazard waste, and it must be disposed of with care. It should be placed in a plastic bag or other container that is puncture resistant.
Disposal of Pharmaceutical Waste
This type of waste includes medications and other pharmaceuticals. Many companies use a take-back program where they receive unused prescriptions from patients. Often the medications will be incinerated in a special combustor.
Disposal of Sharps
Sharps must be disposed of carefully to avoid injuring other people. A sharp in a dental office may be found in many forms. It can be a hypodermic needle, scalpels and blades which are disposable or even glass and some plastics. Sharps are known as bio-hazardous waste. A special container that is strong enough to avoid being punctured must be used to contain the sharps.
A dental office has many special types of waste to manage. It can be helpful to hire a special dental waste company where the workers are experienced in handling each of these types of waste. The team stays up to date on the latest regulations to ensure your dental office remains compliant.