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Handpieces Archived Through 2012
 FAQ - Handpieces - Archived Through 2012



I am trying to locate printed material that discusses the "sucking on the saliva ejector” or the old "Mr. Thirsty” and the negative effects due to possible water line contamination. Can you help?

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Infection Control Guidelines for Dental Healthcare Settings state the following:

Backflow from low-volume saliva ejectors occurs when the pressure in the patient's mouth is less than that in the evacuator. Studies have reported that backflow in low-volume suction lines can occur and microorganisms be present in the lines retracted into the patient's mouth when a seal around the saliva ejector is created (e.g., by a patient closing lips around the tip of the ejector, creating a partial vacuum). This backflow can be a potential source of cross-contamination; occurrence is variable because the quality of the seal formed varies between patients. (1)

Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that gravity pulls fluid back toward the patient's mouth whenever a length of the suction tubing holding the tip is positioned above the patient's mouth, or during simultaneous use of other evacuation (high-volume) equipment. Although no adverse health effects associated with the saliva ejector have been reported, practitioners should be aware that in certain situations, backflow could occur when using a saliva ejector. (1)

OSAP would also like to refer you to the American Dental Association's position statement that may be viewed at:


(1) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Guidelines for Infection Control in 
Dental Healthcare Settings:


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