Practice Hibernation and Mothballing Checklist

Last updated: 15 April 2020

Dental chair

Check the dental unit manufacturer’s instructions for the correct protocol for waterline treatment (e.g. air purging, placing in a long-acting “hibernation” agent, etc). Normally, a thorough flushing of the waterlines would immediately precede this. When performing that flush, ideally put the waterline being flushed over the intake of the high-velocity suction to prevent aerosol generation in the operatory. If unsure of the shut-down mothballing procedure, check with the distributor.

Ensure that any external water bottle attached to the dental chair is cleaned with detergent, and left to drain, and then replaced once fully dry. It is important to have no moisture as this would allow microbial growth.

Flush all the suction lines using the recommended agent, and then run several cupfulls of tap water down the suction hoses.

Other equipment containing water reservoirs

Drain the water from storage bottles in other operatory or laboratory equipment, including benchtop ultrasonic scalers with separate water bottles, CAD-CAM milling workstations (coolant for cutting burs), hard tissue lasers (water for cooling during cavity preparation), and the like.

Suction system and compressor

Turn off the power to the suction system once the suction line flushing has been completed.

Turn off the power to the compressor. Check whether any specific additional actions are needed for the compressor (e.g. draining off condensate water, or depressurizing the compressed air reservoir).

Ultrasonic cleaner

Turn off the unit at the mains power outlet.

Rinse the chamber thoroughly with tap water, and wipe it completely dry. Place the basket back in, but leave the lid off to one side so there is no moisture present.

Washer disinfector

Ensure the chamber is left clean and dry. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct protocol for mothballing. This may in some cases involve disconnecting the chemical supply tanks. Close off water supplies, and turn off the mains power at the switch.

Steam sterilizer

Allow the unit to cool down after its last cycle.

Remove the data card (if present) and back up the data on the card before re-inserting it.

Ensure the sterilizer chamber is left clean and dry, and there is no scale or debris present in the chamber. Clean the chamber using the approved agent. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the correct protocol for mothballing (which is usually the same as for transport back to base for a major service).

Ensure that any deionized water reservoirs or wastewater reservoirs inside the unit are completely drained, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Note that some steam sterilizers may have a specific “draining” protocol or cycle to achieve this.

For units with outboard deionizer systems, close off the water supply valve where the unit connects to the mains water.


To avoid leaks developing while the practice is unoccupied, turn off mains water as one of the final actions of the mothballing process.

Electrical equipment

Check that refrigerator door seals are working. Leave fridges with medicines and perishable materials switched on. Remove food and perishable items from the staff room fridge,

Turn off minor appliances in the staff area (e.g. electric jug, microwave oven).

Ensure arrangements have been made for phone diversion, mail collection, parcel delivery and the like.

Undertake data backup. Take physical backup media off-site.

Check that remote access to servers is working properly.

Scheduled medicines

Ensure all scheduled medicines (including local anaesthetic solution) are locked away, and that the key is not left in the lock or an obvious place.

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