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Frequently Asked Questions
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Table of Contents
- What is backflow?
- Are Safe-FloTM products disposable?
- When does backflow occur?
- Has there been a recorded incident of patient to patient
contamination in a dental clinic?
- How do I use the
Safe-FloTM Saliva Ejector?
- Where can I buy the Safe-FloTM Saliva
- Why doesn't rinsing the vacuum line
- How many people have taken ill as a
result of backflow from the vacuum system?
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
the ON/OFF valve and bend the tube to your preference.
The Safe-Flo Saliva Ejector TM
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
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.
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.
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.