AIR WATER SYRINGE
The air water syringe is one of the few dental devices used on every patient for every procedure.
The two basic functions for this device is irrigating and drying. Seems like a harmless device, right? Wrong. The syringe possesses a design flaw that has remained unaddressed for over 40 years. The simplicity of this device has led many dentists, orthodontists, and hygienists to underestimate the risks of dental cross-contamination. These risks are present in many of the current models or designs. In the USA, there are two versions of the air water syringe. Remarkably, these two syringes have remained unchanged for over 40 years. Four decades is a substantial period for an air water syringe to remain relevant without any enhanced features. Times change, technology advances, and science introduces new ideas for enhancing safety. Despite these technological and scientific advancements, there has been no modification to a device used in all dental procedures.
What Is The One Device That Is Used On Every Patient, For Every Procedure, But Never Heat Sterilized?
THE AIR WATER SYRINGE!
That's correct. This simple device is never sterilized. Once a 3 way syringe is attached to the chair delivery system, it remains in place without ever being removed. For 10, 15, or even 20 years, this device may be used on patients without ever undergoing heat sterilization.
What does this imply? It suggests that thousands of patients received treatment with an air/water syringe that was never sterilized. How is this possible? While most dental devices attached to the chair system can be removed for sterilization, this device cannot. It's astonishing to think that even after 40 years of scientific and technological advancements, this issue persists. However, it does, and this should be a cause for significant concern for you and your family. Despite significant progress in developing safer dental devices, archaic 3 way syringes continue to be neglected.
When will the field of dentistry recognize and acknowledge the inherent flaws associated with the air/water syringe?
Next time at the dental office...
Ask Your Dentist or Hygienist Why They Have Not Upgraded in 30+ years.
Each of the syringes shown below should evoke concern for you and your family. If you encounter these devices in a dentist's or orthodontist's office, you can be sure that they have never undergone a sterilization process.
Do You Know How Hygienists Currently Clean Their Air Water Syringe?
The majority of dental offices clean with a simple disinfecting wipe.
After blood, tissue, and contaminated aerosol sprays onto the syringe from one patient's treatment, a hygienist simply wipes down the syringe with a disinfecting wipe. Following this quick wipe down, the next patient is brought in, and the next treatment begins. The problem with this procedure is that there are cavities in the syringe that cannot be cleaned by a simple wipe down. Additionally, the aerosolized sprayback also reaches the internal parts of the air-water syringe. These parts are neither removed for inspection nor wiped down. Nevertheless, this has become the standard cleaning protocol for an air water syringe.
Would you feel safe knowing that this device had not undergone proper cleaning for ten years' worth of patients? How would you feel if a high-risk patient was treated just before you? Would you still accept your treatment?
A dentist, orthodontist, and hygienist simply lack the time to thoroughly clean the syringe between patients.
The other protective measure that is most commonly used for dental infection control are barrier sleeves. These sleeves are put over the device as a protective barrier from the splash back and contaminated aerosol.
Dentists, orthodontists, and hygienists commonly believe that using barrier sleeves makes air water syringes contamination-free. However, the reality is different; removing barrier sleeves without contaminating the syringe is impossible as they extend beneath the syringe holder. To remove them, one must use a gloved hand, thus risking contamination. Moreover, barrier sleeves have a slit for inserting tips, allowing debris like blood, saliva, and tissue to potentially enter the sleeve, increasing the risk of contamination. Changing gloves frequently to prevent contamination is often impractical in dental practice.
As you can see, barrier sleeves create a false sense of safety. However, do dentists, orthodontists, and hygienists genuinely believe this is practicing safe dentistry?
CURRENT AIR WATER SYRINGE SYSTEMS ARE FLAWED
Why Can’t a Dentist Just Remove Their Current Air Water Syringe?
If a dental office were using one of the syringes shown at the beginning of this page, they would need to follow these steps after treating each patient.
Air Water Syringe Awareness
We, at Dentistry’s Dirty Secret, are alerting the public to this issue to increase awareness that the air/water syringe conceals significantly underreported risks.
Dentists, orthodontists, and hygienists do not inform patients about these risks, which violates informed consent. As a patient, you lack the means to learn about these inherent risks, and most dental professionals are also unaware of them. Our goal is to fill the information gap required for you to gain knowledge about the undisclosed risks when visiting a dental office.
The 3 way syringe is only half the problem. Metal air water syringe tips, which dentists insert into the syringe, also present numerous infection control issues.