Single-Use Items

Guest Contributor, Jennifer Venturini, RDH, BASDH, CDSO, Graduate

According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Instructions for Use (IFU) are required written directions which detail how to prepare, use, handle, store, and dispose of a medical device. Basically, the goal of an IFU is to ensure that the operator has clear guidelines on how to use the item as it is designed.

For example, there are IFUs which specify Single-Use Devices, which are just that: Single-Use. One time. Uno. They are disposed of after one use and therefore do not require reprocessing. These devices will have a number 2 within a circle and a slash through it  on their packaging for easy recognition.

However, in dental offices these Single-Use products are often reprocessed multiple times before finally being discarded. This may be due to Dental Health Care Workers’ lack of knowledge or even lack of concern.

Examples of Single-Use Devices include sterilization pouches, anesthetic carpules, syringe needles, irrigating syringes, cotton supplies, saliva ejector and plastic HVAC tips, air/water syringe tips, disposable impression trays, nitrous nasal masks, sterile water, ortho brackets and wires, matrix bands, and prophy cups and brushes. 

Another consideration is the difficulty of reprocessing dental burs and endodontic files and broaches. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend classifying these items as one-time use only. Additionally, if a product does not come with the manufacturer’s Instructions For Use, it is best to classify the item as disposable.

In order to attain the highest levels of patient safety, understanding Instructions For Use and adhering to those directions is paramount. They are provided to guide you and your patient through a safer dental experience.