Few people look forward to going to the dentist as is — but I’d bet that number would be even lower if they knew about the evacuation system.

What is a dental evacuation system? No, it isn’t a ripcord you can pull to exit the dentist’s chair ASAP, or a secret passageway dentists and hygienists can use to escape the exam room in the event of a laughing gas leak. The truth is far less exciting and a lot more disgusting.

What is a Dental Evacuation System?

You know that suction tool dentists use to suck saliva, blood, and other unappetizing fluids from inside your mouth? That’s called a dental vac, and though it might not be glamorous, it’s one of the most important tools in a dentist’s disposal.

But have you ever thought of where all that gross stuff goes after it gets vacuumed out? You probably just assumed it went down the drain. The truth, unfortunately, is not quite as clean cut. Emphasis on clean.

What gets sucked up by the dental vac travels down a line to the evacuation system. And as you might imagine, that system can get utterly clogged up with all the nasty fluids that pass through it. This has the potential to be a serious health hazard, since the evacuation system connects to something that’s going into the patient’s mouth — major potential cross-contamination.

Lucky for everyone, dentists abide by very strict hygienic procedures, and part of that involves a thorough cleaning of the evacuation system. It’s not just for our benefit, either, since a clogged evacuation system seriously slows down the dentist’s work.

While we won’t get into the gritty details of evacuation system cleaning, there are two main methods to choose from: chemical cleaners and biological ones. Chemical cleaners flush the lines to remove germs in the system, which sounds good at first. Trouble is, they leave behind traces of biofilm that build back up. Bio cleaners, like Sable Industries’ evaporation system cleaner Bio-Pure, take the full-cleaner route and eliminate organic waste completely.

The benefit of chemical-free cleaners like Sable Industries’ evacuation system cleaner is twofold: it makes the line safer for patients and makes it so that staff don’t have to clean it out as often. That sounds like a contradiction, but it isn’t — since a bi-weekly bio-cleaner soak is actually doing more to remove germs than a daily flushing.

So there you have it: it’s gross, but it’s safe. We wouldn’t tell you about the gross secret that lurks beyond the dental-vac without reassuring you that those germs aren’t getting anywhere near your mouth. It might not make you more eager to visit the dentist, but at least you know a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes.