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Sterilization is a term referring to any process that eliminates all forms of life, including transmissible agents (such as fungi, bacteria, viruses, spore forms, etc.) present on a surface, contained in a fluid, in medication, or in a compound such as biological culture media. Sterilization is achieved through a variety of ways such as heat, chemicals, irradiation, high pressure, and filtration.
Summer Orthodontics uses a method for heat sterilization known as the autoclave. Autoclaves commonly use steam heated to 121–134 °C (250–273 °F). To achieve sterility, a holding time of at least 15 minutes at 121 °C (250 °F) or 3 minutes at 134 °C (273 °F) is required. Additional sterilizing time is usually required for liquids and instruments packed in layers of cloth, as they may take longer to reach the required temperature.
The sterilization processes at Summer Orthodontics inactivates all fungi, bacteria, viruses and also bacterial spores, which can be quite resistant.