Dental Carpule Disposal: Best Practices

Dental carpule disposal involves understanding local, state, and federal regulations and agencies. These agencies and regulations are designed to keep you and your patients safe.  What exactly happens to dental carpules once they are used?

Dental Carpules: The Basics

Dental carpules are small, cylindrical glass tubes that are designed to deliver dental anesthetics.  These devices are single-use only, which means they are disposed of according to a specific set of criteria.  What, specifically, is considered a single-use device?  The FDA has an exhaustive list of items, each broken out into different classes.  Each class represents a risk, I being low risk and II being medium risk.  The U.S. FDA Class I non-invasive devices include sequential compression sleeves, tourniquet cuffs, and pulse oximeter sensors, whereas Class II includes surgical devices including Ear, Nose and Throat microdebriders and cautery electrodes.  Class III is not currently recommended for reprocessing due to the nature of the risk.

So, How Do You Dispose of Dental Carpules? (It Depends)

If carpules contain visible blood, they are classified as sharps and put in a sharps container.

If empty, unbroken carpules contain no remaining medicine or blood, they can be placed in the regular trash.  If carpules are broken but contain no medicine or blood, they are not considered medical waste but you may want to place them into a sharps container to protect your employees from the broken glass.  If carpules contain medicine, they can be placed in a container for pharmaceutical waste.

When In Doubt…

When in doubt, you can always put empty dental carpules in a sharps container for safety and cleanliness.

According to the FDA, sharps disposal guidelines state:

  • Used sharps can only be disposed of in a sharps container, including glass
  • Sharps containers may be purchased from supply companies, such as Red Bags
  • Sharps containers must be rigid, puncture-proof, and have lids that seal securely
  • The FDA also states that sharps containers must absolutely be discarded when reaching the fill line on the label, which is approximately ¾ full.  To avoid contamination and injury, containers should not be overfilled.

All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply regarding anesthetic dental carpule disposal.  If you’re unsure, Red Bags can help you with your dental carpule disposal needs. Contact us today.

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