Often the simplest solutions can be the most useful, and this is particularly true in the case of tongue depressors. These flat, wooden boards with their rounded edges have become ubiquitous in the medical field, as well as a range of industrial, craft, and other applications. However, it’s this widespread application of tongue depressors that may be keeping clinicians in the dark when it comes to the range of options in tongue depressors.
What is a tongue depressor?
A tongue depressor is a simple Class I medical device. It is intended for use during the course of a medical examination to depress the tongue in order to allow the clinician an easier examination of the mouth and throat. Without the use of a tongue depressor, the tongue is likely to drift and obstruct the clinician’s view.
However, these simple devices have also found use in a range of other clinical applications, including applying ointments or stirring medications, as well as in industrial, veterinary, and many other applications, Plastic Tongue Depressor making it a useful and versatile tool to have on hand.
Tongue depressor materials
While semirigid plastic and even metal tongue depressors are available, biodegradable single-use wooden tongue depressors remain an industry standard. Northern White Birch is a particularly popular material option. This wood type produces a smooth, splinter-free finish, has no taste or odor, and maintains a high tensile strength that allows it flexibility in use.
In addition, birch is a highly sustainable wood source that yields a large amount of product in each tree. A single average-size birch tree can be used to produce 40,000 tongue depressors.
The types of tongue depressors
Simple as they may seem, there are a number of options to consider when it comes to purchasing tongue depressors.
The standard wood tongue depressor measures 6 inches in length. However, some manufacturers offer size options for the comfort of the smallest patients. Junior wooden tongue depressors measure 5 ½ inches in length by 5/8 inches wide, while infant wood tongue depressors measure 4 1/5 inches long by 3/8 inches wide.
2. Sterile or non-sterile
Tongue depressors are typically available in individual sterile pouches or in non-sterile bulk packaging. Medical examinations will dictate the use of a sterile single-use tongue depressor, and disposal according to all relevant biohazard requirements.
For younger patients, a trip to the doctor’s office can be an uncomfortable or worrisome experience. To ensure these patients’ cooperation and comfort, some tongue depressor manufacturers now offer flavored options. Cherry, grape, and strawberry flavored tongue depressors are a small touch that can help set a clinical practice apart.
4. Manufacturing process
As mentioned above, tongue depressor manufacturers have the option of selecting highly sustainable wood sources in producing these simple goods. However, tongue depressor purchasers also have the option of selecting a product that is made using renewable practices here in the United States. Each of Puritan Medical’s tongue depressors is produced at our factory in Maine. Our wood process waste goes to heat our building, water, and processes, while wood chip waste is purchased by wood pellet manufacturers.