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    Dental procedures produce aerosols that may remain suspended and travel significant distances from the source. Dental aerosols and droplets contain oral microbes, and there is potential for infectious disease transmission and major disruption to dental services during infectious disease outbreaks. One method to control hazardous aerosols often used in industry is local exhaust ventilation (LEV). The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of LEV on aerosols and droplets produced during dental procedures. Experiments were conducted on dental mannequins in an 825.4-m3 open-plan clinic and a 49.3-m3 single surgery. Ten-minute crown preparations were performed with an air-turbine handpiece in the open-plan clinic and 10-min full-mouth ultrasonic scaling in the single surgery. Fluorescein was added to instrument irrigation reservoirs as a tracer. In both settings, optical particle counters (OPCs) were used to measure aerosol particles between 0.3 and 10.0 µm, and liquid cyclone air samplers were used to capture aerosolized fluorescein tracer. In addition, in the open-plan setting, fluorescein tracer was captured by passive settling onto filter papers in the environment. Tracer was quantified fluorometrically. An LEV device with high-efficiency particulate air filtration and a flow rate of 5,000 L/min was used. LEV reduced aerosol production from the air-turbine handpiece by 90% within 0.5 m, and this was 99% for the ultrasonic scaler. OPC particle counts were substantially reduced for both procedures and air-turbine settled droplet detection reduced by 95% within 0.5 m. The effect of LEV was substantially greater than suction alone for the air-turbine and was similar to the effect of suction for the ultrasonic scaler. LEV reduces aerosol and droplet contamination from dental procedures by at least 90% in the breathing zone of the operator, and it is therefore a valuable tool to reduce the dispersion of dental aerosols.


    J R Allison, C Dowson, K Pickering, G Červinskytė, J Durham, N S Jakubovics, R Holliday. Local Exhaust Ventilation to Control Dental Aerosols and Droplets. Journal of dental research. 2022 Apr;101(4):384-391

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    PMID: 34757884

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