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Aside from the dust and loose grit that the dental optical loupes may collect from the surrounding, they may also accumulate significant debris which is being produced by the dental procedures you performed. This debris often includes very hard and small particles of metal or tooth structure.
Even though the optical lenses of most of the dental magnification loupes are manufactured with protective coatings, they are still susceptible to damages. Without proper care, the lenses may become cloudy, scratched, and difficult to use. To make sure that the loupes are always in good working condition, you need to clean them on a regular basis.
Cleaning the dental magnifying loupes
The first thing that you should do when cleaning the loupe is to carefully remove the gross debris.
For dental loupes with water resistant lenses
If your dental loupe is water resistant, you can use a water lavage to wash off the debris. After such, wipe the lenses and the loupes with cleaning wipes intended for microscopes. You can also use the lens-cleaning or microfiber cloth. When you purchase a loupe, it usually comes with a lens-cleaning cloth.
For dental loupes with non-water resistant lenses
If it is not water resistant, you can use a can of compressed air to remove the gross debris. Once done, wet a soft cotton swab or tissue with either Lysol infection control disinfectant, mild soap, 70% isopropyl alcohol, or other lens cleaning solutions that the dental loupe manufacturer recommended and then carefully wipe away loose particles and major debris. Finally, dry the loupes by successively wiping it with another set of microscope cleaning wipes or with the use of a microfiber fabric.
Warnings and precautions
When handling, cleaning and disinfecting the magnification loupes, always remember not to do the following:
- Spray the disinfectant or lens cleaning solution directly onto any part of the loupe.
- Submerge the dental loupes in water or any form of liquid.
- Use a disinfectant or lens cleaning solution that is not recommended by the manufacturer or not intended for magnifying lenses.
- Use cotton gauze in cleaning the optical lenses as they can possibly cause scratches.
- Sterilize the loupes using a steam, ultrasonics, autoclave, or gamma radiation.
How often should you clean and disinfect the loupes?
Every dental procedure you do on a regular clinical day produces debris that is harmful not only for your loupes but also for you and your patients. Preferably, you have to clean and disinfect all areas of the dental magnification loupes using a high-level disinfectant right after each procedure or patient.
When performing dental procedures that produce a significant amount of debris like multiple tooth preparations, you have to clean the magnifying lenses at least twice or as often as needed during the entire procedure.
When buying a pair of new dental magnifying loupes, if possible pick the one that has water-resistant lenses. Loupes with water-resistant lenses are easier to clean and disinfect as compared to those that are not resistant to moisture or liquid.