How to correctly diagnose a collapsed suction tubing

Chris Rickwood: Dental Equipment Repair Technician | Saturday, 01 April 2017


#5: How to correctly diagnose a collapsed suction tubing.



Dental suction tubings are a curious thing. They need to be light and flexible yet they need to put up with constant sanitisation and bending and they need to be resistant internally to the build up of debris consisting of mainly saliva, blood and amalgam. The inside of the tubing must be made of different material to the outside as the internal tubing is very, very expensive and actually quite delicate, it needs to be super slippery so debris has a hard time sticking to it.

Unfortunatley this creates a problem.. after a period of use the inside of the tubing can become detached from the outside and collapse in on itself rendering the whole thing completely useless. When the inside of a suction tubing collapses it looks like a set of puckered up lips ready for a big kiss.. of course invariably this happens way down in the tubing where it cannot be seen. There are several ways to deduce this is what has happened:

·        Drastic loss of suction

·        Suction unit making more noise

·        A gurgling sound coming from the tubing audible through the suction handpiece

·        The suction tubing can move about when it is in it’s holder on the manifold

There are several factors however that can replicate these symptoms and lead one to believe that the tubing has collapsed when it in fact has not. Follow these steps to be sure.

·        Disconnect the tubing that goes directly into the suction unit and make sure there is no blockage in the inlet filter, if there is one.. a blocked inlet filter can reduce the units ability to clear the pipe running under the floor and will often produce a gurgling sound..

·        Inside the spittoon follow the suction tubing back to the spittoon valve and/ or filter to check there is no blockage there..

·        Disconnect if possible the suction tubing from the manifold.. most but not all tubings have a push fit connection (Durr, Adec etc) If when disconnected there is no gurgling sound then it is almost definitely the suction tubing.. get a colleague to hold one end and pull it straight, if there is no daylight then it is blocked or collapsed.

Simply put, trace the flow of suction from the unit back to the handpiece, or vice versa.

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Next time: #6 Are you sure you can fit a scaler tip correctly?