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The prophylaxis cannula: Innovation for professional powder stream suction

The prophylaxis cannula is becoming increasingly important in dentistry. For the team, however, this also involves a not inconsiderable additional effort for cleaning and disinfection. This is because the spray mist and, most of all, the particles from the powder stream devices are not completely captured by suctioning and could possibly carry dangerous pathogens with it. They then condense into the overall working environment – to the irritation of many therapists.

Stefanie Winter from the surgery of Dr. Peter Kessler in Swabian Obersulm could not rest – until an ingenious idea came to her: A specially shaped cannula which aspirates better than was possible thus far. Dürr Dental seized upon the idea and implemented it in practice. "A recommendation from the field for the field" is how the inventor sees it.


Read the complete interview

Question: Ms Winter, how did it all come about? How did you have the idea of a special cannula?

Stefanie Winter: I have been a dental employee in the Dr. Kessler team since 1995. In our surgery, we use powder stream devices for cleaning teeth almost on a daily basis. It always irritated me that the powder dispersed into the prophylaxis room. Both the patient, the therapist and the entire working environment were affected by the propagation of the powder. After each patient, the entire prophylaxis room must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. A time-consuming process which I wanted to shorten – with a modified cannula which more effectively suctioned excess powder and spray mist.

Question: So at least you had a rough idea of how the cannula could look. How did you then implement your idea?

Stefanie Winter: The cannula opening had to be widened. First, I took some impression compound and formed an appropriate structure. Naturally, I didn't get it right immediately! It took me many attempts to optimise the shape. Once I had found an acceptable shape, a dental technician made me a 1:1 model that could also be tested out on patients.

Question: How did the test go?

Stefanie Winter: It was great! Then one thing became quite clear to me: We’ve got a real market gap here! I thought about how I could make this new cannula also available to other prophylaxis assistants. A colleague pointed out to me that Dürr Dental was nearby and had a reputation for smart ideas after all. I enquired there and was invited to present my idea and to actively participate on test persons.

Question: Was there much persuasion effort involved?

Stefanie Winter: Hardly any! I had racked my brain, of course, on how to best present my idea. I prepared suitable cloths for covering the face of the test persons when applying the powder stream. Just the mouth was left exposed for treatment. Then we worked conventionally and, for comparison, also worked with the new cannula. The result was astonishing: With the conventional cannula, the cloth was almost white from the powder; with the new prophylaxis cannula, in contrast, hardly any powder sediments could be seen! The costs for the frequently used face-covering cloths could thus be saved.

Question: Is the result just as you thought it would be or has a lot changed?

Stefanie Winter: After the initial tests, together with me, the engineers of Dürr Dental reworked the shape of the cannula opening accordingly. In combination with the 360° rotation capability of the protective shield, the prophylaxis cannula is very ergonomic to use. This makes it ideal for treatment without assistance, too. Even treatments involving rubber dam covering can be suctioned effortlessly. The funnel-shaped opening of the cannula is a little longer on one side. This shield provides effective protection against diffuse powder particles. Larger accumulations of powder are consequently avoided. This is particularly helpful for patients with a pronounced gag reflex. In addition, the mucous membranes as well as the tongue and lips are protected from irritation. The prophylaxis cannula can capture twice as much aerosol as conventional cannulas. Even special applications, such as the severing of crowns and bridges as well as the removal of amalgam fillings, are safer. The larger particles or the metal powder are removed very reliably.

Question How long did the entire process from the initial idea to the presentable cannula take?

Stefanie Winter: Two years. During this time I tinkered and refined the idea; luckily, my boss gave me the opportunity and time for this. I am very grateful for his support and patience.

Question: Are you now largely satisfied with the end result, the prophylaxis cannula from Dürr Dental?

Stefanie Winter: Absolutely! We have developed a unique and highly efficient cannula for dental use. There is no comparable cannula available on the market. The propagation of powder in the treatment room has dropped noticeably and the treatment is much safer.
I found the development and collaboration with Dürr Dental to be an extremely pleasant experience that could have not have been better. I was integrated in each step of the entire product development. I am very proud that my idea has become a marketable product. In any case, I now know where to go should I have another similarly good idea!

The prophylaxis cannula with inventor Stefanie Winter