Evacuating the oral cavity of saliva and liquid debris is key for a comfortable dental visit. The saliva ejector is a hollow, perforated suction tube and it assists in the removal of all those icky liquids. Since the device is about the size of a drinking straw you may get the common urge to seal your lips around it and suck. Please, don’t.
There’s more than air in there. The bendable low-volume suction tip that your hygienist places in your mouth is designed to help remove excess water, liquid debris, and saliva. It’s possible for the material from a previous patient to remain in the vacuum line of the saliva ejector and be aspirated into your mouth. Gross! But cross-contamination is easily avoided with these tips:
- Never seal your lips tightly around the saliva ejector tip
- Never suck on the saliva ejector tip
- Allow dental staff to clear your oral cavity of water and debris
According to the Center for Disease Control, no adverse health effects associated with the evacuation device have been documented, but patients and dental professionals should be aware that backflow could occur when a saliva ejector is used.