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Development and Validation of a Prototype Vacuum Sensing Unit for the DD2011 Chairside Amalgam Separators

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Technical Report

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Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio JBSA Fort Sam Houston United States

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Chairside amalgam separators, such as the DD2011, remove amalgam waste particulates by filtration and are attached to the vacuum system of dental chairs for easy removal and replacement. Amalgam particulates captured by manufacturer-installed, chairside amalgam traps prevent vacuum line blockage by removing large dental waste deposits and tooth debris. This makes chairside amalgam separators a preferable option as a first line of defense for the removal of dental amalgam waste. In addition, separators aid in preserving the wastewater plumbing of dental clinics by preventing sludge build up over time. Chairside amalgam separator replacement schedules are currently independent of the volume of amalgam waste entering the filtration device and solely dependent upon a set service schedule. Time-based determination of the amalgam separator lifespan does not address variability between individual amalgam separators as well as outlying events that may critically disrupt the separator s efficiency. Unforeseen challenges, such as damage to the filtration medium or debris buildup within the inflow and outflow ports, could disrupt the fluid flow and prematurely reduce the suction force necessary to collect amalgam and biomaterial from a patient s oral cavity. To ensure a properly functioning amalgam separator that performs within current and proposed government mandates, a user-friendly sensor is necessary to monitor the differential pressure across the separator that immediately report adverse conditions. The objective of this research was to design, build, and validate a vacuum sensing prototype that records changes in pressure differentials and provides an audible and visible cue when vacuum pressure drops below predesignated levels necessary for proper dental suction. These data will allow dental clinics to achieve full utilization of amalgam separators in addition to remaining in compliance with amalgam waste management regulation.

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