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General Aspects of Instrument Processing

Explore the critical concepts of instrument processing and strategies to prepare contaminated instruments for safe reuse, with this continuing education article from the OSAP and the DALE Foundation.


Course Overview

CE Credits
Months to Access Course
Hours to Complete
Post-Course Assessment Questions

Ensuring that dental instruments used in patient treatment are properly prepared is one of the most important duties in the dental office. Instrument sterilization is just one step in the chain of procedures needed to prevent the spread of potentially pathogenic microbes from contaminated instruments to patients.

This article presents a real-world scenario that provides context for important concepts of instrument processing, along with strategies and recommendations to prevent negative outcomes. You’ll learn the general steps for instrument processing, as well as be able to describe the modes of disease transmission involving contaminated dental instruments. Plus, you’ll receive a list of resources for training on instrument-processing procedures, which you can refer to later.

This continuing education activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the standards of the ADA Continuing Education Recognition Program (ADA CERP) through joint efforts between the DALE Foundation and OSAP.

Course Credentials

May 2018
September 2019
Next Review:
September 2022

Course Compatibility

Desktop, laptop and tablet

AGD Code: 148

After completing the articles, you will be able to:

  • Describe the general steps for instrument processing
  • Describe the modes of disease transmission involving contaminated dental instruments
  • List resources for training on instrument-processing procedures
  • Describe the importance of having standard operating procedures and manufacturer instructions for instrument/equipment processing available to reprocessing personnel

Subject Matter Experts

The material featured in this course was developed in support of the OSAP-DANB-DALE Foundation Collaboration or originally published in Infection Control In Practice Team Huddle™, a resource for clinicians from OSAP to help build a framework for the Safest Dental Visit™. OSAP has no relevant financial relationships to disclose.


The DALE Foundation is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider. ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education, ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry. Concerns or complaints about a CE provider may be directed to the provider or to ADA CERP at


The DALE Foundation is designated as an Approved PACE Program Provider by the Academy of General Dentistry. The formal continuing education programs of this program provider are accepted by AGD for Fellowship, Mastership and membership maintenance credit. Approval does not imply acceptance by a state or provincial board of dentistry or AGD endorsement. The current term of approval extends from 9/1/2021 to 8/31/2024. Provider ID# 355127