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Topographic aspects of airborne contamination caused by the use of dental hand-pieces in the operati

Topographic aspects of airborne contamination caused by the use of dental hand-pieces in the operative environment.


September 2020, Ionesco, A.C.,DDS, PhD, Cagetti, M.G., DDS, PhD, Ferracane, J.L., PhD, et al, JADA

Summarized by: Nicole Scott

The danger of airborne contamination in dentistry, has long been considered one of the major concerns in dental practice. Air spray cooling handpieces, although vital in the dentistry, have been identified as the primary source of cross infection. They are capable of producing spatters and aerosol that can travel considerable distances, up to 1-3 meters from its source. Spatters are air suspension of liquid or solid, with a particle size of 100 micrometers or more, while aerosol are much smaller at less than 50 micrometers. Aerosol can remain suspended for up to 30 minutes after the end of an operative procedure and spread by air currents. The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019, has returned to the spotlight, the problem of airborne contamination in the dental setting. Furthermore, owing to the infectious nature of aerosols, they show potential for contamination not only for the dental care personnel and patients but also for and all exposed surfaces of the operatory and operatory environment. Thus, highlighting the need to yield the lowest possible contamination level. The study by Dr Ionesco et. al., using biological tracer to map and quantify biological contamination in the dental operatory, demonstrated that all tested instrument spread the tracer over the entire dental care unit to include the walls and ceiling. The maximum distance was 360 cm, 300 cm and 240 cm for the air turbine, contra-angle and scaler respectively. Interestingly, all surface was covered with tracer after the use of the air turbine. Therefore, the use of rotary and oscillating handpieces should be minimized, especially during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In addition, the highest care and attention must be paid to the use of personnel protective equipment and decontamination procedures of the dental care personnel as the highest level of contamination was found in the dental unit area.

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