N, S, or B Class Autoclave: How to Choose Your Clinic’s Steam Steriliser

When selecting a steam sterilizer for your dental practice, understanding the differences between N, S, and B class autoclaves is essential.

When looking through LuxeMED's range of Autoclave options, there are a wide array of options. Making the right choice for your situation is an important decsion, so we have put together the following guide to assist you in making the best decision possible. Please ensure you contact your regulatory body to establish the sterilisation requirements of your insdustry.

Autoclave Classes Explained

- Class N Autoclaves: These are basic models suitable for solid, unwrapped instruments. They lack a vacuum pump, limiting their ability to sterilize hollow instruments or those in packages.

- Class S Autoclaves: Mid-range options that include a single-stage pre-vacuum pump, allowing for the sterilization of single-packed and some hollow instruments. They offer better air removal than Class N but are less efficient than Class B.

- Class B Autoclaves: The most advanced type, equipped with fractionated pre-vacuum technology. They can sterilize all types of instruments, including complex, hollow, and wrapped items. These autoclaves meet all sanitary and epidemiological standards and are ideal for comprehensive sterilization needs.

Autoclave Class Summary

 Autoclave Class Autoclave Class Summary

Class N Autoclaves

The Lowest Class. 

No Vacuum pump so you can only sterilise instruments with a solid (not hollow) structure, and which are unpackaged.

Class S Autoclaves

The Middle Class.

Single stage vacuum pump. suitable for the sterilisation of single-packed, multilayer packed and more massive instruments, which you cannot sterilise in class N autoclaves.

Class B Autoclaves

TheHighest Class. 

Features a fractionated pre-vacuum that completely removes air from the chamber. These are what hospitals, medical centres, and dental clinics usually use for their instruments.

Key Considerations

1. Volume and Instrument Types: Determine the number of instruments used daily and their types. Practices with multiple dental chairs or high patient turnover may require larger or additional autoclaves.

2. Chamber Size and Load Capacity: Choose an autoclave with a chamber size that fits your practice's needs without being excessive. The configuration of trays and racks should accommodate both unwrapped and wrapped instruments efficiently.

3. Available Space: Ensure the autoclave fits within the designated area in your reprocessing room, allowing space for set-down areas and workflow optimization.

4. Manual vs. Automatic: Manual autoclaves are less expensive but require more hands-on operation. Automatic autoclaves offer features like pre-programmed cycles, automated door-locking, and digital documentation, enhancing convenience and reducing manual workload.

5. Sterilization Cycle and Time Logs: Autoclaves with digital output for record-keeping provide reliable sterilization logs, meeting regulatory requirements and ensuring best practices in infection control.

6. Maintenance Requirements: Understand the maintenance needs, including the replacement of consumables and the terms of the warranty. Consider the quality of customer support and the availability of technical assistance.

7. Cost Considerations: Evaluate initial and ongoing costs, including installation, maintenance, and accessories. Smaller autoclaves may be more cost-effective initially, with the option to add another unit as capacity needs grow.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing the appropriate autoclave involves careful consideration of your practice’s specific needs, available space, and budget. Investing time in researching and planning will ensure you select the best autoclave to maintain effective infection control and streamline your sterilization process.

For more detailed information and personalized assistance in selecting the right autoclave for your clinic, get in touch with the friendly LuxeMED team.