When dental surgery is performed under anesthesia, the patient is unable to clear their own airway. This makes suction a vital component of any oral surgery. The right portable suction machine allows hygienists and other dental workers to quickly tend to patients undergoing both routine and emergency surgeries. The following safety tips can help you effectively suction your patients while ensuring the surgeon or dentist can render exceptional care.
1. Get a Patient History
Before the patient is under anesthesia, get a detailed history of their previous surgeries and dental procedures. If the surgery is an emergency procedure, ask how recently the patient ate. Patients who have recently eaten may be more likely to vomit and aspirate during the procedure, so have the right suction tip available to clear the airway.
2. Minimize Contamination Risk
For nearly three decades, researchers have sounded alarm bells about the dangers of backwash in dental suctioning. In most cases, the risk occurs when a patient closes their mouth around the saliva ejector, creating negative pressure that allows backwash to flow into their mouths. This is not a concern under general anesthesia, but other situations that create negative pressure may be. To reduce the risk of contamination:
- Do not use a saliva ejector at the same time as other high-volume evacuation equipment.
- Do not position the suction tubing directly above a patient’s mouth.
As with any other suction procedure, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and sterilizing the equipment after each use. Never reuse disposable suction catheters, even with the same patient. And when using reusable catheters, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for sterilizing the catheter before reuse.
3. Beware of Loose Teeth
Loose teeth and other dental structures—such as broken crowns or fillings or poorly fitting dentures—create a choking and aspiration risk. Patients undergoing oral surgery are more likely to have oral health problems, including broken teeth or poorly fitting dentures or crowns. Be mindful of these structures during the procedure. Dental equipment may knock these structures loose, so avoid making direct contact. When dental structures do come loose, be prepared to promptly remove them, or to suction the airway if they become trapped in the airway.
4. Ensure You—and the Dentist—Can See Everything
For offices that perform many routine surgeries a day, suctioning itself can become routine. But it is important to not operate by rote or habit. You must be able to see everything you are doing, and it is equally important that the dentist’s vision not be obstructed. Position suctioning equipment so that it does not come into contact with the dentist’s equipment or obstruct their view of the surgical site.
5. Be Prepared for Complications
Surgical complications can come as a surprise. A seemingly healthy patient may not stop bleeding, or a person undergoing a routine surgery may aspirate or begin vomiting. Do not assume that a healthy patient necessarily means an easy, complication-free surgery. The ability to promptly respond to complications can save patients’ lives and preserve your office’s reputation.
Every dental provider needs an emergency response plan that identifies each provider’s role in the event of an emergency. You should also have a clear transfer policy and a plan for stabilizing patients as they await transfer.
6. Use the Right Equipment
The right equipment is key to a smooth procedure and can help you effectively respond in the event of an emergency. The SSCOR Ducanto Catheter is recommended for dental providers because it enables rapid Suction Assisted Laryngoscopy and Airway Decontamination (SALAD) when a patient is actively vomiting or bleeding. This can prevent aspiration and choking.
A portable emergency suction machine is a key piece of equipment for any provider who performs dental surgery. It allows you to attend to a patient wherever they are—including when a patient needs emergency care in a waiting room or outside of the surgical suite. For help choosing the right portable emergency suction machine for your office, download our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Purchasing a Portable Emergency Suction Device.