Understand your family's potential risk for infection connected to backflow.
Talk to your dentist about their infection control techniques.
Did You Know?
Patient safety and infection control are key concerns
among dental professionals, but research shows that,
while rare, cross contamination or infection from one
dental patient to the next does still occur.
Dozens of patients each day leave a thin film of
bacteria and viruses on dental equipment. Wiping down
the equipment can't eliminate them all, and the dark,
moist environment of the saliva evacuation tubing is a
breeding ground for dangerous germs.
The new disposable DOVE® Backflow Prevention
Valve from Stoma Dental is a one-way valve
that prevents backflow and eliminates
cross-contamination between patients.
To learn more about how the new DOVE®
Backflow Prevention Valve works,
watch this short video.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that 1 in 5 people who close their lips around the
saliva ejector straw may experience backflow and allow previously evacuated fluid to flow backwards into
a patient's mouth, potentially exposing them to viruses and bacteria left behind by previous patients.
Read the short articles below to learn more about backflow and dental infection control.
Beware of Potential Infection Caused by Backflow
A person's mouth can contain billions of germs – including bacteria and other viruses and pathogens. Even the cleanest mouth may have up to 100,000 bacteria on each tooth. It's with good reason then that most dentists are focused on important infection control procedures, and you should be too. Most dentists do practice rigorous infection control procedures, but these procedures can vary and the potential for cross-contamination between patients can still occur.
One potential cross-contamination culprit: Saliva ejector valves. A saliva ejector straw is placed in your mouth to extract saliva and water and to keep you from choking or dribbling during dental procedures. A new saliva ejector straw or tip is used with each new patient. However, metal saliva evacuation valves and evacuation tubing are used dozens of times a day to extract saliva and other debris during patient treatments, including routine cleanings and more complex dental procedures.
Backflow within a saliva evacuation valve can occur when you close your lips around the saliva ejector straw, which can decrease pressure in the vacuum line. This may allow fluid evacuated from a previous procedure but remaining in the vacuum line to flow backwards into your mouth, bringing with it any germs left behind by the previous patients.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that backflow is a significant risk factor for microbial cross-contamination between patients. While CDC recommends certain infection control procedures, infection control practices do vary.
New Backflow Prevention Valve Keeps You Safe
Patient safety and infection control are serious concerns to dentists and patients alike. After decades of concern about backflow, you and your dentist can now have a new level of confidence and benefit from optimal infection control, thanks to a new valve that prevents potentially hazardous backflow.
Saint Louis-based Stoma Dental has introduced its new disposable saliva ejector valve, called the DOVE® Backflow Prevention Valve. This one-way valve has an internal flap that prevents backflow and virtually eliminates backflow and the risk of cross-contamination between patients.
Using the DOVE® Backflow Prevention Valve is as easy as flipping a switch. Here is how it works: A smooth and easy switch activation by the dentist, assistant, or hygienist operates the open and closing mechanism. At the end of each procedure, the valves can be pulled off the vacuum line and discarded. The entire process takes a matter of seconds, making their use much more efficient than traditional metal valves, which can take more than 10 minutes and sometimes two staff members to disassemble and sterilize.
Because these new valves are disposable and simple to use, they can be easily replaced in between patients, further alleviating cross-contamination concerns.
Tips for Safety at Your Next Dental Visit
Make it Safe: While rare, cross infection from one patient to the next does still occur. By now, you're probably dreading your next trip to the dentist, but the key is to educate yourself and ask questions. Here are three patient safety tips that may help alleviate concerns during your next visit to the dentist.
1. Watch the gloves. Does your dentist get a new set of gloves out of a sterile or clean glove dispenser, or pick them up from a potentially unsterile countertop? What does your dentist touch with the gloves? Do they throw the gloves away in front of you?
2. Check out the office. How old is the equipment? How clean is the office? A clean and tidy office means a greater chance for optimal infection control, because less mess makes it easier to sterilize countertops, surfaces, and equipment. More mess means more work and potentially more germs.
3. Ask questions and understand how risks can be avoided. One often overlooked area of concern rests with backflow, which is connected to the saliva ejection straw and valve used to remove saliva and other fluids from your mouth during dental procedures. New, disposable saliva ejector valves eliminate the risk of cross-contamination between patients. To ensure that bacteria and other germs are not transferred to you during your visit, ask if your dental office offers this disposable option. The use of DOVE® Backflow Prevention Valves provides a safe environment for each patient. Talk to your dentist and make sure that you are getting the safest dental care.