Dental offices are preparing to return to full operation for the first time in three months due to the coronavirus. However, the pandemic’s viral nature, combined with the high-level risk of aerosols, droplets and splatter associated with suction tools, is causing dentists to rethink their operational protocol. Most patients are having second thoughts about visiting their dentists in fear of being exposed to the virus. Thus, clinicians must take a closer look and decide if their suction tools are up to the standards of what has now become the “New Normal.”
Why It’s Essential for Dentists To Use The Right Suction Tools
Viral transmission and cross-contamination have always been persistent issues in the world of dentistry. However, addressing these concerns has gained renewed interest after the world experienced the global effect of COVID-19. For dentists, knowing when to use the right type of suction tool is already a step in the right direction when it comes to mitigating the virus and other similar threats from spreading.
Traditional Types of Suction Tools
While clinicians are well-versed in these suction tools, emphasizing the importance of these tools to your staff is crucial for a smooth and safe dental operation.
This type of suction tool helps keep a patient’s mouth clean and dry. This tool is the standard instrument to remove saliva and tooth particles loosened by the dentist’s drill. However, it is not strong enough to remove solid debris inside the mouth, and due to it being a low-volume ejector, it has a higher chance of causing backflow that can lead to cross-contamination.
High-Volume Evacuator (HVE):
A larger variation of the standard suction tube, it can vacuum larger debris during dental procedures. This tool is essential during oral surgery, root canals and fillings, and prevents any pieces dislodged during a procedure from becoming a choking hazard. Also, an HVE is ten times more effective at suctioning aerosols and droplets when compared to saliva ejectors.
Are There Risks Using Traditional Suction Tools?
Hygiene instruments and handpieces create particle droplets of water, saliva, blood and microorganisms. These particles are potential carriers of viruses that can compromise the health of everyone exposed to it.
Therefore, while clinicians still use saliva ejectors for necessary procedures, many prefer HVEs because of their 90% success rate in siphoning aerosols and droplets compared to low-volume saliva ejectors. However, dentists and their teams should be aware that there isn’t a method to quantify the percentage of dental aerosols and should precautions during aerosol-generating procedures.
The Next-Level Solution to Dental Aerosols
So far, various studies have concluded that using an HVE is preferred by most dentists. However, is there a better alternative for this new normal?
The answer is yes. Extraoral Suction Systems outperform HVEs when it comes to reducing aerosols during dental procedures. These systems are portable, making it easy to use from one operatory to the next. Extraoral suction systems have a high-speed filtration system built into them, which kills viruses and bacteria and prohibits them from being reentered into the air. Some units even have a UV light built into them, which also helps kill viruses and bacteria even quicker!
Now that clinicians are required to change their personal protective equipment (PPE) for every operatory they visit; they need to reduce the amount of time a dental procedure may take. One way to do this is using an extraoral suction system. Why? Because it promotes four-handed dentistry. The dental assistant doesn’t have to hold the suction device since it’s portable. Therefore, the assistant two hands are assisting the dentist’s two hands, helping reduce procedure time.
While traditional suction tools are still practical for clearing liquids and debris from a patient’s mouth, the call for safety measures against COVID-19 and other similar viruses should cause you to look beyond the present. For this reason alone, manufacturers are making way for better and safer instruments like the Extraoral Suction System.
Dental offices looking to step forward to what many call the “New Normal” should continue to stay up to date on the latest guidelines and best practices. It’s also recommended to keep an eye out for emerging solutions. Implementing safety procedures and protocols in your office help patients and staff feel safe.