Tools of the trade: Sucker Blower


by Dr Adrian Freedman, Clayton South, VIC

All aspirators and suction tips used in the surgery are sterilised. Plastic ones can’t be steam sterilised as they melt so all plastic suckers are first cold sterilised and then washed and blow-dried. Initially the nurses were using the air water syringes to blow the suckers dry but this created an OH&S problem as they were getting sore thumbs. It was also not very efficient. To solve this problem, I designed and constructed a five-nipple sucker blower.

What’s good about it

Its operation is not labour-intensive, and allows the staff to process the suckers as a background task.

It is connected to the main airline and has an electrically operated solenoid valve that is driven by a custom-built timer module. The solenoid opens for a preset time so the device can blow five suckers every 10 seconds. It’s used at least once a week and takes about 15 minutes to process a batch of 50 sucker tips.

What’s not so good

The original design specified 10 nipples. Unfortunately, it was found to rapidly deplete the airline pressure so the final design has only five nipples. This limits the volume of air required and allows the compressor to rapidly recharge the system. Unlike all the other air-driven dental equipment, the five-nipple sucker blower runs directly off the main airline at high pressure. This is necessary in order to achieve sufficient airflow through the suckers to dry them in minimum time.

The only other issue is that a towel needs to be used to cover the suckers during operation. This prevents both suckers and spray going everywhere.

Where did you get it

It was designed and built by me!

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  1. Why wouldn’t you just buy suction tips that can be cleaned & then sterilised in the autoclave or the disposable ones. I’m not sure cold sterilising and blowing air around your steri area is a great OHS idea! I’d imagine if you gave your patients the option of autoclaved suction tips, one use disposable or cold sterilised they’d pick one of the first 2 options.


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