I know what you’re saying, Not My Valves! And we hope that is the case, however, there’s a very good possibility they do. Here’s why…
Lets first ask a couple of questions to see how well maintained your office HVE and Saliva Ejector Valves are.
*How often do you disassemble the parts on the HVE and Saliva Ejector? See image below. Each manufacturer states you are to disassemble as part of the regular routine and then scrub each part.
*Do you lubricate the o-rings frequently? All manufacturers state to routinely lubricate the orings. Specific to the leading chair mfr, they state to remove the orings entirely and lubricate each routinely.
*How often are you replacing the o-rings? Valve companies state to inspect orings often and routinely. Most agree to replace all valve orings yearly assuming your offices are already following the above-mentioned disassembly & lubricating routine. Not following the above routine likely means changing more frequently.
*What is the main purpose of the orings inside the evacuation valves?
- Seal off the liquid debris from leaving the interior of the valve.
- Provide a swivel on the valve and tailpiece coupler
- Provide a smooth easy on/off rotation
With respect to your office. Visit each room and see if the following is easy to do:
*Pull off the HVE or Saliva Ejector easily. These are designed to connect similar to a dental handpiece. They will click into place and should require NO force.
*Swivel at the connection. Same applies, similar to dental handpiece designs you should have swivel ability. Dental unit instruments were designed to work with you and not against you to reduce carpel tunnel syndrome. Also they are designed to reduce tangling of tubings.
*Pull/push out the On/Off lever. These are designed to push out with relative ease. This should require very little force.
So why is our article titled “Your Evacuation Valves Most Likely Leak?”
Over the past 3 years we’ve visited 100’s of offices, spoke with countless dental professionals and continue to work with the leading infection control professionals in the industry. We rarely see valves maintained correctly.
When orings are not maintained, they will not work properly. Our experience is based on the following:
1. It very rare when we offices disassemble the valves. Our last poll consisted of a few hundred dental professionals resulting in less than 1% following the IFU (instructions for use). Most valves we encounter are never removed off the lines and never lubricated.
2. Many offices we visit require a pair of pliers to remove the valves. It is a sure indicator the orings do not work. In these situations, the orings have become dry and brittle. Blood, saliva and other debris leak into the areas where the oring was designed to seal. These valves most often seap (leak) out the sides.
3. We speak to dental professionals and ask them if they have ever seen a bubble on the side of the valve during a procedure. More often we hear YES as opposed to NO as the response.
We’ve personally viewed leaking blood, saliva, water and bubbles. The cause for concern is where these leaks end up. Many of the leaks end up on the patients! To quote one RDH, “I quickly wiped the bubble off of my patients ear in horror”.
Finally, just because you cannot see the leak does not mean it’s not occurring. Bubbles and blood are obvious indicators. However, when orings are compromised and no longer function as they were designed, they will leak air and faint fluid because they will take the path least resistance when suction is on.