By Wayne Rees
Why Should You Use VELscope VELcap Vx and VELsheath Vx Disposable Asepsis Barriers?
Over the years, we have been routinely asked why the VELscope requires the use of the VELcap and VELsheath, per-patient asepsis barriers that help provide infection control and prevent cross contamination. Many of our prospective customers will point out that not all oral screening devices require the use of disposables – this is true; so why do we recommend the use of the VELcap and VELsheath during screenings? Let’s take a look, especially in the context of the pandemic occurring in the world around us at this very moment.
What are VELcaps and VELsheaths?
Before we get into the “why” of disposable use, let’s look at what a VELcap and VELsheath are and how they relate to one another. The VELcap is a round, clear barrier that connects to the end of the VELscope to protect the light ring and optics from contamination during an examination. The VELsheath is a thin clear barrier that is similar to a plastic sandwich bag, which covers the remainder of the VELscope, including the handle and all areas not covered by the VELcap. These barriers combine to provide a tough layer of cross contamination prevention for your VELscope system. Easy enough? Let’s get to the “why” of disposable use.
VELcap and VELsheath Disposables Protect Your Patients
First and foremost, VELcap and VELsheath Vx barriers protect the health of your patients by preventing cross contamination. An article in Dimensions of Dental Hygiene outlines the reduced risk of transmitting infectious disease between patients through the use of disposable asepsis barriers. Many infectious diseases are transmitted via droplets of saliva and implementing the use of a new VELcap and VELsheath for each screening prevents any saliva from coming in contact with the VELscope. Because the VELscope examination requires the device to be within a few inches of the oral cavity, heavy breathing, coughing or sneezing could result in pathogens contaminating the device itself. These disposables are a simple way to block infections from the VELscope unit and can be easily discarded after the screening is performed.
The VELsheath prevents contamimation of the VELscope with your gloved hand
Since the VELsheath covers the handle portion of the VELscope handpiece, you do not have to worry about the possibility of its contamination by a gloved hand that has come into contact with patient tissues. Remember, rubber gloves can transmit viruses and bacteria, so having the VELsheath in place provides a physical layer of cross contamination prevention for the VELscope.
The VELcap Ensures Clear Visualization
As mentioned, the main benefit of using the VELcap is infection control and protecting your patients. However, we also designed the VELcap to aid in delivering a superior oral screening exam through the reduction of fog on the lens during screening. We’ve all breathed on a window in the cold winter air to see how we can create fog on the glass. A device placed close to the oral cavity will experience the same phenomenon, so we use an anti-fog plastic in the VELcap to ensure every screening is as clear as possible, so the tissue fluorescence information is sharp and easily seen.
The VELcap Protects Your VELscope
The final benefit of the VELcap is that is helps protect your investment in the VELscope by covering the light ring and optics that are vital to the technology’s reliable performance. Keeping the optical components of the VELscope protected helps your system function at peak performance.
The World Has Changed
Over the past few weeks, the role of disposable barriers has been given greater visibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the healthcare field has always stressed the necessity for protective coverings to prevent infection and cross contamination , the public at large is now more aware than ever. In addition, society has become much more informed about the ease with which communicable diseases and infections can spread via saliva. Now more than ever, any device that is placed within close proximity to the oral cavity (a few inches of the mouth) should be covered with a disposable barrier which can be immediately discarded and replaced prior to seeing the next patient.
Should All Oral Screening Devices Utilize an Asepsis Barrier?
While we strongly encourage the use of a new VELcap and VELsheath for each exam, there are other screening technologies that do not require an asepsis barrier. Utilizing disposables does increase the cost of screening each patient with the VELscope by approximately $1.96 per exam, so there is an added expense that other comparable technologies may not include. However, from a patient care perspective, we always strive to go further to provide the absolute safest screening possible. We feel that while adding the use of our VELcap and VELsheath disposable asepsis barriers does increase the overall investment in the VELscope technology, it is a small price to pay for the safety of your patients, your practice and your staff.
If you would like more information on the VELscope, we are here to help. Click the button below to reach our team or call 877.278.3799.
 See for example the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2003 publication “Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings – 2003”. For a comprehensive list of infection prevention and control guidelines in oral health care, visit the CDC website – https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/guidelines/index.htm.