AIR WATER SYRINGE
The air water syringe is one of the only dental devices that are 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 air water syringe has a design flaw that has not been addressed for over 40 years. The simplicity of this device has left many dentists, orthodontists, and hygienists to underestimate the cross-contamination risks. These risks are found in many of the current air water syringe designs. In the USA there are two versions of the air water syringe. These two air water syringes have stayed the same for over 40 years. 40 years is a long time for an air water syringe to still be relevant with no enhanced features. Times change, technology improves, and science institutes new ideas on how to make things safer. Yet with all the technological advances and scientific improvements, we have yet to see a change in a device that is used for all dental procedures.
What Is The One Device That Is Used On Every Patient, For Every Procedure, But Never Sterilized?
THE AIR WATER SYRINGE!
That’s right. This simple device is never sterilized. Once an air water syringe is attached to the chair delivery system, it is never removed. 10, 15, 20 years of patients this device was used on, but never removed and never put through a sterilizer.
What does this mean? This means that thousands of patients have been treated with an air water syringe that was never sterilized. How can this be? Most dental devices attached to the chair system can be removed to sterilize, but not the air water syringe. It’s shocking to think after 40 years of scientific and technological breakthroughs that this still could be the case. But it is. And this fact should raise a lot of concern to you and your family. Dentistry has come a long way in developing safer devices, yet archaic air water syringes are still being overlooked.
When will dentistry wise up and see the inherent flaws that are associated with the air water syringe?
If You Go To Your Dentist, Orthodontis, Or Hygienist And See Any Of The Following Air Water Syringes…
Ask Your Dentist or Hygienist Why They Have Not Upgraded in 30+ years.
Each of the air water syringes shown below should strike fear into you and your family. If you see these devices in a dentist or orthodontist office, you will know that it has never been removed to go through a sterilization process.
Do You Know How Hygienists Currently Clean Their Air Water Syringe?
The majority of dental offices clean their air water syringe with a simple disinfecting wipe.
After blood, tissue, and contaminated aerosol sprays onto the air water syringe from one patients’ treatment, a hygienist simply wipes down the syringe with a disinfecting wipe. After the quick wipe down, the next patient is then brought in and the next treatment begins. The problem with this procedure is that there are cavities in the air water syringe that cannot be cleaned by a simple wipe down. The aerosolized spray back also gets into the internal parts of the air water syringe. These parts are not removed to inspect let alone wiped down. Yet this has become the standard cleaning protocol for an air water syringe.
Would you feel safe knowing that this device was not properly cleaned for 10 years worth of patients? How would you feel if a high-risk patient was seen right before you? Would you still accept your treatment?
A dentist, orthodontist and hygienist simply do not have the time to properly go through and clean the air water syringe between patients.
The other protective measure that is most commonly used for an air water syringe are barrier sleeves. These sleeves are put over the syringe as a protective barrier from the splash back and contaminated aerosol.
A dentist, orthodontist, and hygienist feel that this is safe and that air water syringes do not get contaminated when implementing barrier sleeves. The reality is that an air water syringe still gets contaminated. There is no way to remove the barrier sleeve without contaminating the air water syringe. Because barrier sleeves go below the air water syringe holder, you would have to hold the syringe with one hand (that is wearing a dirty glove) to remove the sleeve. You can test this process yourself and see there is no way to not contaminate the air water syringe. The amount of times you would need to change gloves to ensure the air water syringe is not contaminated is something that a dentist, orthodontist, or hygienist would not do. Barrier sleeves also have a slit for inserting air water syringe tips into the air water syringe, which leaves an opening for splashing debris (blood, saliva, and tissue) to get inside the barrier sleeve.
As you can see, barrier sleeves are a false sense of safety. But a dentist, orthodontist, and hygienist feel this is 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 air water syringes that are shown in the beginning of this page, they would need to do the following steps after each patient’s treatment.
We at Dentistry’s Dirty Secret are warning the public of this problem in order to raise awareness that the air water syringe contains grossly unreported risks.
These risks are not explained to patients, which breaks informed consent. There is no way as a patient you would know about these inherent risks and a dentist, orthodontist, and hygienist are not divulging this information as most of them are unaware as well. We are simply bridging the gap of information needed for you to become educated with the unknown risks when visiting a dental office.
The air water syringe is only half the problem. Metal air water syringe tips, which are inserted into the air water syringe, have many infection controls issues as well.