Courtesy of Zirc
Medium Airway Armor 610978e81a6b2

Pearls for Your Practice: Airway Armor by Zirc

Sept. 27, 2021
Learn about this inexpensive product that can reduce the risk of potentially dangerous situations such as crown aspiration.

I will never forget Gabriel. Gabriel is a great patient of mine. He came in with worn upper front teeth and missing a bunch of posterior teeth. He wanted to restore his dentition, and he wanted to do it the right way. We had implants placed by OMS in the posterior and waited for those to integrate. While we waited, we worked on diagnostic wax-ups so we’d be ready to restore Gabriel when his implants were ready.

We finally got the approval from the oral surgeon and began our restorative phase. Impressions and scans of the implants were made. The lab work was done. Finally, we came to seat day. We delivered all the implant crowns on the upper, opening Gabriel’s bite. Next, we did injection molded composite veneers on Gabriel’s front teeth. Finally, we had one more implant crown to deliver: number 19. As I took it to the mouth, it slipped off the driver and went down the hatch. In a flash it was gone. What a gut punch. So close to the end, and one little mistake derailed the whole thing. Airway Armor by Zirc could have saved the day.

Airway Armor are single-use, disposable patient protection devices designed to reduce the risk of aspiration or ingestion of dental paraphernalia. Airway Armor are made from comfortable, rubberized plastic that won’t cut or pinch your patients. They sort of look like two dry angles with an oval in the middle connecting them. You simply place an Airway Armor similarly to how you’d place a bite block or a dry angle. The perforated middle section allows air and water to pass through but not potential aspirants such as crowns, drivers, matrices, etc.

Airway Armor comes in three different sizes—small, medium, and large. They’re not autoclavable, and they should be discarded after their initial use. And $2.60 per Airway Armor is a reasonable cost for such a product. You can order them in a kit with all three sizes, or you can order the sizes individually in packs of 25. That seems like a small price to pay to save us from something like an aspiration. 

I got lucky with Gabriel—he did not aspirate that crown. He swallowed it. It was already moving through his gastrointestinal system when imaging was taken the next day. No, we did not instruct Gabriel to try to recover that crown. We had the lab remake it. It turns out that when the physician did Gabriel’s chest x-ray to see where the crown was, they found a mass on Gabriel’s kidney that needed treatment. He was actually happy that this happened. Even still, I never want it to happen again. Ground rule double to deep right field for Airway Armor!

About the Author

Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD

Joshua Austin, DDS, MAGD, is a graduate and former faculty member of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Dentistry. Author of Dental Economics’ Pearls for Your Practice column, Dr. Austin lectures nationally on products, dental technology, online reputation management, and social media. He maintains a full-time restorative dentistry private practice in San Antonio, Texas. You may contact Dr. Austin at [email protected].

Updated June 21, 2023

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