LED imaging visually confirms oral suction device efficacy in droplet and aerosol reduction

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oral suction device efficacy in droplet and aerosol reduction
Photo: docian 123rf

Many infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, are known to spread through aerosols and droplets suspended in the air. Therefore, it is necessary to fully understand the hazards of aerosols and droplets presented during dental treatment.

Using a dental air turbine and a mannequin, Japanese researchers recreated the droplets and aerosols that occur during dental procedures. The key is the high-sensitivity camera and high-intensity LED light source, which allowed for high-quality images of the droplet spreading during the simulated procedure, which was previously difficult to do in real-time without dye.

Then, extra-oral suction (EOS) and intra-oral suction (IOS) were used to determine how well these oral suction devices work. Using these techniques, the researchers at Tohoku University reduced droplet and aerosol spread within the air by 97.8 per cent when both EOS and IOS were used, and a 92.1 per cent reduction using IOS alone, publishing their results in the Journal of Prosthodontic Research.

“Since the droplets and aerosols (‘spray’ and ‘mist’) generated during dental treatment contain bacteria and viruses derived from saliva and blood, elucidation of their spreading and diffusion dynamics is required from the perspective of COVID-19 prevention,” Jun Watanabe said.

Nor is saliva is not the only component that can aerosolise and cause issues. Different materials can produce different aerosols; silicon, calcium, potassium, and zinc have been recorded in air samples from dental clinics.

Inhalation of fine dust, mainly silica, can lead to respiratory issues in frequently exposed individuals. Understanding the spread and diffusion of such particles in the air is a key step in successfully protecting individuals from potentially harmful diseases that can be spread through airborne droplets.

It’s also worth noting that the work being done on the patient can alter the directionality or spread of the droplets. For example, researchers found that treatments for cavities on the anterior teeth are the most likely to be associated with droplet spreading.

Furthermore, the correct placement of the oral suction devices is important, with the most effective positioning of the EOS device found to be about 10 centimetres away from the patient’s mouth at a 0º angle.

“Analysis in various clinical situations is expected to elucidate the dynamics of dental treatment-derived droplets and aerosols and lead to the establishment of new dental treatment protocols, the development of air purification equipment, and the development of a cleaner and safer dental care environment,” Hiroyasu Kanetaka said.

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