Can you reuse cheek retractors? [Case Study]

Can you reuse cheek retractors

Over my many years in dentistry, the question of reusing dental equipment, especially cheek retractors, has come up time and again. The simple answer is yes, cheek retractors can be reused, but it’s not as straightforward as just washing and reusing.

Proper sterilization and care are paramount.

In this article, we’ll discuss the intricacies and best practices of reusing these crucial tools, ensuring both patient safety and the longevity of the equipment.

Reusing dental equipment, including cheek retractors, requires meticulous care to ensure patient safety and the longevity of the tool. If you’re considering reusing cheek retractors, follow these best practices:


After each use, remove visible debris using a soft brush and warm water.

This step ensures that the sterilization process is more effective.


Submerge the cheek retractor in an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant. Ensure that the disinfectant is suitable for dental instruments. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for concentration and immersion time.


Use an autoclave or other suitable sterilization equipment to thoroughly sterilize the retractor. Ensure that the retractor is fully dried after the sterilization process to prevent bacterial growth.


Once sterilized, store the cheek retractors in a sealed container or sterile pouch to protect them from contamination until their next use.

Replace Periodically

Even with careful cleaning and sterilization, cheek retractors have a finite lifespan. It’s essential to replace them periodically to ensure optimal functionality and patient safety.

Always prioritize patient safety and adhere to the standards set by dental governing bodies. If you’re ever in doubt about the integrity or cleanliness of a cheek retractor, it’s better to err on the side of caution and use a new one.

Case Study: Cheek Retractor Reuse Program at a Dental Clinic

A dental clinic in the United States implemented a cheek retractor reuse program in 2020. The program was designed to reduce waste and save money.

Prior to implementing the program, the clinic was using disposable cheek retractors for all of its patients. This was generating a significant amount of waste, and the clinic was spending a lot of money on new retractors.

To implement the reuse program, the clinic purchased a set of autoclavable cheek retractors. These retractors can be reused multiple times after being cleaned and sterilized.

The clinic also developed a new protocol for cleaning and sterilizing the retractors. The protocol includes the following steps:

  1. The retractors are rinsed with water immediately after use.
  2. The retractors are soaked in a solution of enzymatic detergent and water for 10 minutes.
  3. The retractors are scrubbed with a soft brush to remove any debris.
  4. The retractors are rinsed with water.
  5. The retractors are placed in an autoclave and sterilized for 20 minutes at 121 degrees Celsius.

The clinic has been very pleased with the results of the cheek retractor reuse program. The program has reduced waste by 90% and saved the clinic over $10,000 per year.

Top Re-usable Cheek Retractors On Amazon

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20 PCs, $11.99 ($0.60 / Count)

Dentists Also Liked: BVN (10L 10M 10S)

30 PCs, $17.99 ($0.59 / Count)

Hey there! Dr. Husam Alhurani (DDS) here! 👋

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