Saliva Ejector TM

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 Safe-Flo Saliva EjectorTM

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Table of Contents

  1. What is backflow?
  2. Are Safe-FloTM products disposable?
  3. When does backflow occur?
  4. Has there been a recorded incident of patient to patient contamination in a dental clinic?
  5. How do I use the Safe-FloTM Saliva Ejector?
  6. Where can I buy the Safe-FloTM Saliva Ejector?
  7. Why doesn't rinsing the vacuum line prevent cross-contamination?
  8. How many people have taken ill as a result of backflow from the vacuum system?

What is backflow?

Backflow is the movement of fluid in the opposite direction that it was originally moving.  In the case of the dental unit vacuum system, backflow is the flow of fluids from the vacuum line back into a patient's mouth.   Suckback is the backflow of fluid that occurs when a patient closes their mouth on the saliva ejector and then overcomes the vacuum while re-opening their mouth.  When the patient opens their mouth, they can inadvertently suck fluid from the vacuum line back into their mouth.  Backflow can also occur when the saliva ejector is blocked against the cheek, tongue or other parts of a patient's mouth.

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Are Safe Flo products disposable?

Yes, the Safe-FloTM products are a one time use product and must be disposed of after each use. Once any item is used in the vacuum line, it is contaminated and becomes part of the contamination risk.  The Safe-FloTM valve is a one-way valve and a mechanical device. You would have to sterilize it, take it apart and clean it, reassemble it and then test it to confirm it is working properly after each patient. In today's dental practice, there just isn't enough time in-between patients to do that much work and it would cost much more than the Safe-FloTM products.  For this situation, a disposable product is the option that makes the most sense.

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When does backflow occur?

Backflow can occur under many situations.  Research studies indicate backflow occurs when there is a fluctuation in the vacuum pressure.  Fluctuations can occur when other devices are used in the dental office or when the end of the saliva ejector is blocked by the cheek, tongue or other parts of the mouth.  The highest risk of backflow exists when a patient closes their mouth on the saliva ejector.  The Safe-Flo Saliva Ejector TM was developed to prevent backflow during these conditions.

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Has there been a recorded incident of patient to patient contamination in a dental clinic?

In August of 2007, the Center for Disease Control published a report regarding patient to patient transmission of Hepatitis B (HBV) in a dental clinic.  A patient was diagnosed with Hepatitis B after undergoing surgery at their dental clinic.  Molecular epidemiologic techniques indicated transmission of HBV between the two patients.   When investigators visited the dental office, they found the dental clinic staff followed standard infection control techniques.  The actual source of the cross-contamination was not identified by the CDC.  Since typical infection control procedures do not involve flushing the vacuum lines between patients, the source of the cross contamination may have been the saliva evacution equipment.  See the clinical research page for a link to the CDC report.

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How do I use the Safe-Flo Saliva EjectorTM ?

The Safe-Flo Saliva Ejector TM is designed to be a direct replacement for the standard low volume saliva ejector.  Just like other low volume saliva ejectors, push the ejector onto the ON/OFF valve and bend the tube to your preference.

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Where can I buy the Safe-Flo Saliva EjectorTM?

The Safe-Flo Saliva Ejector TM is available through many distributors.  If you are having a hard time finding it, please see our "Where to buy" page for an updated list of distributors that carry the Safe-Flo Saliva Ejector TM.

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Why doesn't rinsing the vacuum line prevent cross-contamination?

Rinsing the vacuum line is recommended by the ADA, CDC and most vacuum system manufacturers.  It should be a regular practice in the dental office.  However, depending on the rinsing routine, biofilm can develop on the inside of all the permanent components and as a result minimize the effect of the rinsing process.  Also, each component in the line creates nooks and crannies that may not get cleaned out during the rinsing process.  Cleaning the line with an enzymatic cleaner before rinsing with water will make the rinsing process more effective and minimize biofilm.  Most dental offices make it a routine to clean the vacuum line at the end of each day.  That does not provide any protection for the second patient to the last patient of the day. 

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How many people have taken ill as a result of backflow from the vacuum system?

There is no way to track illnesses that have resulted from backflow.  Since people have so many interactions before and after visiting the dentist, it is impossible to trace the illness back to the activity at the dentist office, let alone the vacuum system.  There have been several research studies on the issue of backflow and those studies have proven the risk of backflow exists.  You can find links to the studies on our website.  One study found over 20 percent of the subjects experienced backflow during the study.  There is a paper published in Scotland that identified the vacuum system in the dental office as a possible source for Hepatitis C, which is a lethal disease.  It would be helpful if we could trace illnesses back to their source.  Unfortunately, most illnesses are not traceable.

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Why take any risk regarding backflow and cross-contamination?

The Safe-Flo Saliva Ejector TM  is a low cost elegant solution that manages the risk and puts you at ease.