Which is Better for Intraoral Scanners - Single-use or Autoclavable Tips?
When purchasing and using intraoral scanners, there are various important features of the scanner you pay attention to. One, in particular, is the tip. With the tip, the two most important qualities are the size and the sanitation method. The latest out of Medit, the Medit i500, uses autoclavable small tips. We often discuss the tip size, but the focus of this blog will be on the sanitation method.
Let us begin by discussing the two types of tips. There are single-use and, like the i500, autoclavable tips.
Before we compare the two, we need to consider some definitions. Single-use simply means you can use the unit one time only. Autoclavable means that the unit can be autoclaved; a sanitation method using elevated temperature and pressure within a pressure chamber.
The main benefit of a single-use tip is there are no worries about sanitation. Your patients won’t have to feel uncomfortable with a used tip in their mouths. However, through autoclaving, it sanitizes the tip, essentially rendering it new. Therefore, in terms of sanitation, both tip types are equivalent.
It is time to bring the environmentalist out of me. When it comes to waste product, the single-use tips create a much bigger waste footprint than autoclavable tips. When purchasing single-use tips, you must buy them in bulk. You most likely monitor your stock much more regularly than a stock of autoclavable tips. While the autoclavable tip does have a limited number of times you can autoclave it – the Medit i500’s limit is 20 times – it still creates much less trash than the other option. A single tip giving you 20 uses is much more efficient than a tip giving you a one-time use. With an increasing number of environmentally-conscious people throughout the world, choosing the option that creates less trash by volume is appealing to many. Today, many European countries are considering banning plastic straws and coffee cups so maintaining a more environmentally-friendly tip should also be considered when choosing between which tip to use.
Now let us factor in economics. Sure, an autoclavable tip might be more expensive per unit, but it is certainly not more expensive than 20 single-use tips. Of course, you would need to purchase an autoclave, but in the long-run, the money saved is greater! It is much more convenient and efficient to reuse something before needing to get rid of it.
As for the Medit i500, we chose to use autoclavable tips. As mentioned above, the tip can be re-sterilized up to 20 times before needing to replace it. As a guide, the tip requires 30 minutes of sterilization at 121?/249.8?, followed by a 15-minute drying period. You want to make sure to clean and sterilize the tip before using it for the first time and before reusing it to prevent cross-contamination between patients. We here at Medit believe that the autoclavable tip is the best option for your scanning needs.