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Follow the colour code: White (Dental Waste)

04 July 2016

Initial Medical is releasing a series of blogs to help people understand the purpose of the healthcare waste colour codes, and also how important segregation of healthcare waste is. Every month it will be selecting one colour of the colour coding guide; this month’s colour of the month will be White, which represents dental-specific waste.

The Colour White (Dental Waste)

Dental-specific waste can be both toxic and non-hazardous waste such as amalgam and dental study models, which is commonly known as Gypsum waste. Separate containers are available from Initial Medical to segregate and safely store toxic amalgam-contaminated items and non-hazardous unwanted study models.

Example of Dental Waste: 

  • Unwanted Amalgam
  • Old fillings, Teeth with fillings. Grindings
  • Surplus amalgam which cannot be reused
  • Dental study moulds (Gypsum)

Segregation of Dental waste

In terms of segregation, both type of dental waste (Amalgam & Gypsum) need to be segregated further due to the different disposal or recycling methods used. 

Amalgam releases low levels of mercury vapour, which has been associated with adverse effects in the brain and kidneys when high exposure is detected. In order to protect staff, patients and the general public from potential harm, all amalgam waste must be segregated and stored in sealed containers which contain a mercury suppressant to await appropriate disposal. 

In regards to the dental study moulds, these are made from Gypsum - this was banned from normal landfill in 2009 as it can produce sulphide gas when mixed with biodegradable waste in landfill. It is therefore distinguished as high sulphate waste and must be disposed of separately.

Amalgam Separators & Gypsum Containers

It is strongly advised that all dental practices which use suction units should be fitted with an amalgam separator to prevent any hazardous mercury particles from entering the water supply. Amalgam separators are a must for all dental practices, ensuring safe and effective separation of amalgam and compliance with the various hazardous waste regulations. 

As such, amalgam separators must be fitted so as to protect all possible routes by which amalgam could enter the drains, including dirty sinks where instruments that have come into contact with amalgam are washed.

Advice on managing your Dental Waste

For all professionals coming into contact with and handling Dental Waste, it is essential that they understand the regulations and are comfortable with the colour coding system, as recommended by the Department of Health.

The use of visible posters and easily accessible written guidelines is beneficial as well, carefully located in appropriate areas around the premises to remind staff of the correct procedures. Similar posters or flyers can be used as a reference tool regarding the colour coding system too, clearly demonstrating which colour should be assigned to which type of waste.

If you would like to receive our unique colour coding guide posters from Initial Medical, view our colour coding page and fill out our request form.

Follow the Colour Code

It is important to know the different types of colour codes for your waste, if you would like to know more about clinical waste or the different types of waste within the colour coding guide, please view our website.