A Simple Guide to Dental Waste Management and It's Cost-Effective Disposal!

To effectively provide their dental service to patients, dental practices use and produce a variety of waste including hazardous materials. Most disposable items can be disposed of by simply throwing them into the trash. However, certain items like: amalgam, cold sterile solutions, sharps, etc. are considered hazardous or dangerous waste and should be disposed of properly.

There are many different kinds of dangerous waste and this simple guide will help you understand what some of them are and how you can properly dispose of them without breaking the bank.

Amalgam Waste:

Amalgam is made up of many metals and held together by mercury. It is found in various places in the dental office: vacuum pump filters, amalgam separators, chair-side traps, and as left-over from capsule mixing.

  • Disposal: Dental amalgam is hazardous and must be disposed of correctly, not in the regular trash or rinsed down the drain. Amalgon recycling is used to properly manage amalgam-contaminated items. Simply fill the container with amalgam-contaminated waste. Attach the pre-paid shipping label and give your full container to the UPS driver that delivers your supplies. You can also drop off Amalgon at any UPS location. The package is shipped to a leading EPA licensed processing facility. At this facility, mercury in amalgam is separated from other waste, processed and recycled.


Contaminated Medical Waste:

OSHA defines regulated medical waste as is liquid or semi-liquid blood or other potentially infectious materials. It could also be items that would release the infectious materials if compressed, for example disposable items such as gauze that have been contaminated with blood or other body fluids.

  • Disposal: Using leak-resistant biohazard bags is enough for containment of non-sharp regulated medical waste as long as the bag is sturdy and can be disposed of without contaminating it's exterior. The hazardous bag can then be discarded according to federal, state and local regulations.. If your office generates "Red Bag" medical waste or you have existing full red sharps containers, replace your expensive waste pick-up company with the Isolyser/SMSm Red Bag and Sharps Container Mail-back System.


X-ray fixer:

X-Ray machine fixer has a high-silver content. The Federal EPA Hazardous Waste RCRA Regulations define hazardous amounts of silver as greater than 5 PPM. This means used, untreated processing chemicals are hazardous waste that needs to be disposed of properly.

  • Disposal: Discount Disposables - Infection Control Products offers a couple options for properly disposing of x-ray fixer:
    • Chemgon solidifies, encapsulates, chelates, absorbs and binds processing chemicals through the application of coordination chemistry, converting your hazardous liquid waste into a non-hazardous solid waste safe for regular trash disposal.
    • Fixer Treatment System provides year-long compliance. The spent fixer chemicals enter the Fixer Treatment System and at this point a simple chemical exchange occurs. The ions contained in the steel wool filter inside the Fixer Treatment System are exchanged for the silver ions in the spent fixer. The silver collects in the Fixer Treatment Unit as a precipitate and eventually is recycled. After the hazardous silver is collected the liquid can safely go down the drain. Pricing includes recycling, year-long compliance and pre-paid return packaging.


Sharps (needles, scalpels, carpules etc):

Sharps waste is one of the most common types of medical waste produced in dental offices due to how frequently they're used. The CDC estimates that health-care employees suffer 385,000 needlesticks and other related sharps injuries annually. When not disposed of properly, sharps present a big risk of disease and injuries.

  • Disposal: Isolyser/SMS is an in-office sharps treatment and disposal product used to properly dispose of needles, syringes, blades and other potentially infectious sharps. Since 1989, thousands of medical, dental and veterinary offices have safely used Isolyser/SMS to store, treat and dispose of sharps. This product completely replaces the expensive waste pick-up company and is the original in-office treatment product for small quantity generators.


There are also ways to dispose of cleaning solutions such as cold sterile, lead foil from x-ray processing and many other types of waste that dental offices produce on a daily basis. The proper management of all this dental waste is ultimately the generators responsibility. Whether you use a pick up service or disposal products, proper management and disposal will protect YOU, your employees and your patients. 

For more information on dental waste management/disposal visit InfectionControlProducts.com or call us at 800-366-0973 to discuss your disposal and recycling needs.