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, researchers at Tohoku University in Japan recreated the droplets and aerosols that occur during dental procedures. Key tools in the experiment were the high-sensitivity camera and high-intensity LED light source, which allowed for high-quality images of droplet spreading during the simulated procedure, which was previously difficult to do in real-time without dye.
Extra-oral suction (EOS) and intra-oral suction (IOS) were used to determine how well these devices work. Using these techniques, the researchers reduced droplet and aerosol spread within the air by 97.8% when both EOS and IOS were used, and a 92.1% using IOS alone.
The researchers found that a patient’s treatment can alter the directionality or spread of the droplets. For example, it was discovered that treatments for cavities on the anterior teeth are most likely to be associated with droplet spreading. Furthermore, the correct placement of oral suction devices is important, with the most effective positioning of the EOS device found to be about 10cm away from the patient’s mouth at a 0o angle.
While this study confirmed the effectiveness of IOS and EOS at reducing droplets in the air during dental treatment, some limitations will require future testing. The mannequin could not simulate breathing, which may produce differing results. Further investigations using a patient model will be required to clarify the efficacy of these oral suction devices.
The results of this study were published in the Journal of Prosthodontic Research.