Waste disposal in dental practices
All medical establishments, both public and private, must follow special disposal methods for “clinical waste”, while respecting the hygiene, health and safety regulations in force. As well as doctors’ clinics and surgeries, these health requirements apply for dental practices.
When a dental practice is opened and starts working, the dentist is legally required to sign a contract with a company that is authorized to dispose of special waste.
During dental check-ups and appointments, all organic material must be collected in special containers, which are usually provided by the waste disposal company, and kept separately from normal waste.
Until it is collected by the authorized company, the special waste must be kept temporarily in the practice’s storage area.
All disposal procedures for special waste from a dental practice must be meticulously recorded and then stored and disclosed on an annual basis.
Dentists must make sure that they are given the handover receipt so that they are exempt from any liability after collection.
“Special waste” must be placed in individual, monitored disposal equipment because it can act as a reservoir of infection and contagion.
The special waste from a dental practice essentially consists of organic materials of various kinds. It can be subdivided into hazardous and non-hazardous clinical waste and go through a process that is similar but subject to more checks and restrictions.
Dental waste that is deemed hazardous can remain in the practice until it is collected for disposal by an authorized company, as long as it is kept far from the medical staff in the establishment, the patients and third parties.
The most direct risk associated with hazardous special waste is catching infectious diseases such as TB and AIDS.
In addition to body parts, needles, gloves, gauzes and other materials that are soiled with blood or secretions, hazardous special waste may also include amalgam and alloys commonly used by dentists for fillings and the liquids for developing and fixing x-rays.
The medical director of the dental establishment is responsible for hazardous special waste until it is handed over to a specialized company.
After it picks up the containers of special waste, the authorized company will carry out the final disposal process through thermal destruction in incineration plants.
The high temperatures completely inactivate and destroy all of the harmful inert material and potentially pathogenic micro-organisms, such as spores and viral and bacterial agents.
All special waste loading and unloading operations must be recorded in dedicated logs in the dental practice, so that they match the records kept by the disposal company. However, this only applies to public establishments. Private dental practices are exempt from these additional checks.
The owners of dental practices are always responsible for the cost of special waste disposal, although they can claim deductions of between 20% and 40% on their urban public waste disposal taxes.