November 22, 2018
by Sheri B. Doniger DDS
Do you ever request your patients to close on the saliva ejector to evacuate fluids from their mouths? If so, when was the last time you effectively cleaned out the valve? When a patient closes on the saliva ejector or the tip becomes occluded, backflow may occur due to a temporary drop in vacuum pressure. Saliva ejector backflow has been proven to potentially occur in an estimated 21-25%, as studied by the University of Montreal in 1998. 1 These studies indicated water contamination containing bacterial levels ranging from 1 CFU to 300 CFU* per occurrence. [*CFU (cfu or cFu) is defined as colony forming units in microbiology used to estimate the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells in a sample.] More plainly stated, one in five patients may receive the backwash in their mouths from the last patient. Think of how many times you ask your patient to “close”? That is a lot of bacteria!
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