cross contamination, dental assisting, dental hygiene, dentistry, infection control, rdh, Uncategorized

Your Evacuation Valves Most Likely Leak

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.

hve

*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?

  1.  Seal off the liquid debris from leaving the interior of the valve.
  2.  Provide a swivel on the valve and tailpiece coupler
  3.  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:

oring

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”.

leaking valve

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.

 

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Your Suction Lines Remain Dirty “After Flushing”

The following images display the interior of a dental vac suction line “before and after” flushing.  Debris will remain regardless, unless the interior surfaces are scrubbed.  Since this is not possible, “Backflow” of suction devices should be a major concern.  Our new Saliva Ejector Backflow Prevention Valve alleviates the risk!interior valve after flushing

Uncategorized

Does your dental office offer Disposable Single-use Dental HVE and SE Valves

What is your office infection control protocol for High Volume Evacuation Valves (HVE) and the Saliva Ejector Valves (SE)?  How often do you flush the suction lines and disassemble the Valves according to the manufacturer instructions?  Are your patients aware of your office protocol for the Valves? 

New protocol has been implemented at different facilities this year.  At VA Dental Clinics all HVE and SE Dental Valves must be disassembled and reprocessed “every patient”.  Is this being on the side of too safe?  One option that we have witnessed at various clinics is asking patients if they would like a clean, new valve.  Stocking a smaller case of disposable single-use valves will allow you this option.

What you will find is the majority of patients do care when presented a option of clean vs reprocessed.  Put yourself in the patients position.  They do not have the expertise you have.  Have you inspected the SE Valve under the rubber tip?  What is your first impression?  The below image is what we have discovered often.  It is a typical SE Valve under the rubber tip.  It is never disassembled and has not ran through a autoclave.  If you were a patient, and this was your other choice, what would you choose? 

Image