Sterilization Monitoring Service

The University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry offers a weekly service to determine the effectiveness of dental office sterilizers.  An integral component of office sterilization procedures is monitoring the efficiency of the system.  A multitude of factors may diminish the effectiveness of sterilizer function.

Common Problems

Two of the most frequent problems encountered are improper wrapping of instruments preventing adequate penetration to the instrument surface, and defective control gauges that do not reflect actual conditions inside the sterilizer.

One may employ chemically treated tapes that change color or biological controls to check for the proper functioning of an office sterilizer.  Materials that change color generally inform the practitioner that sterilizing conditions have been reached, but do not necessarily indicate that sterilization of the chamber contents has been achieved.

In addition, certain indicators change color long before sterilization occurs and appropriate conditions are met.  Autoclave tape is probably the worst offender in this regard, since it will change to show the striped markings following very brief exposure to steam.  The major use of specific chemical indicators to monitor sterilization is as a routine check for each load of items processed through the sterilizer.  Gross malfunctions can usually be detected quickly by utilization of indicator labels, strips, and steam pattern cards.

The employment of calibrated biological controls remains the main guarantee of sterilization.  These preparations contain bacterial spores that are more resistant to heat than viruses or vegetative bacteria.  Since the spore preparations are relatively heat-resistant, the proof of their destruction after exposure to the sterilization cycle is used to infer that all microorganisms exposed to the same conditions have been destroyed.  The demonstration of sporicidal activity by an office sterilizer thus represents the most sensitive check for efficacy.

How our service works

Participants in UDM’s Sterilization Monitoring Service are mailed a year’s worth of spore strips (enclosed in packets along with a control strip) together with instructions for their processing.  Once the spore strip is used according to the instructions, it is mailed along with the control strip to the laboratory for processing.  If a spore test is positive, indicating that the sterilizer failed to sterilize, the office is notified of the failed test. 

Each participant’s test results are available online accessible 24/7 by user name and password.  Complete reports can be printed from the site.  Annual reports are also sent to each office.


As a component of our service, a certificate of membership, suitable for framing, is sent to participants. 



Although we continue to offer monthly testing of sterilizers, we strongly urge participants to monitor all dental office sterilizers weekly in accordance with the CDC/ADA Infection Control Guidelines. 

If you have questions, we can be contacted at 313-494-6915.

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    Service Costs


    Service Cost
    One sterilizer
    Each additional sterilizer

    MONTHLY SERVICE  (Not recommended)
    One sterilizer
    Each additional sterilizer



    We accept checks, Visa, and MasterCard.