Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Evaluating aerosol and splatter following dental procedures: Addressing new challenges for oral health care and rehabilitation

Lookup NU author(s): James AllisonORCiD, Dr Charlotte CurrieORCiD, David Edwards, Charlotte Bowes, Jamie Coulter, Ekaterina Kozhevnikova, Professor Justin DurhamORCiD, Dr Christopher NileORCiD, Professor Nicholas JakubovicsORCiD, Dr Nadia Rostami, Dr Richard HollidayORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Background: Dental procedures often produce aerosol and splatter which have the potential to transmit pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2. The existing literature is limited. Objective(s): To develop a robust, reliable and valid methodology to evaluate distribution and persistence of dental aerosol and splatter, including the evaluation of clinical procedures. Methods: Fluorescein was introduced into the irrigation reservoirs of a high-speed air-turbine, ultrasonic scaler and 3-in-1 spray, and procedures were performed on a mannequin in triplicate. Filter papers were placed in the immediate environment. The impact of dental suction and assistant presence were also evaluated. Samples were analysed using photographic image analysis, and spectrofluorometric analysis. Descriptive statistics were calculated and Pearson's correlation for comparison of analytic methods. Results: All procedures were aerosol and splatter generating. Contamination was highest closest to the source, remaining high to 1-1.5 m. Contamination was detectable at the maximum distance measured (4 m) for high-speed air-turbine with maximum relative fluorescence units (RFU) being: 46,091 at 0.5 m, 3,541 at 1.0 m, and 1,695 at 4 m. There was uneven spatial distribution with highest levels of contamination opposite the operator. Very low levels of contamination (≤0.1% of original) were detected at 30 and 60 minutes post procedure. Suction reduced contamination by 67-75% at 0.5-1.5 m. Mannequin and operator were heavily contaminated. The two analytic methods showed good correlation (r=0.930, n=244, p<0.001). Conclusion: Dental procedures have potential to deposit aerosol and splatter at some distance from the source, being effectively cleared by 30 minutes in our setting.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Allison JR, Currie CC, Edwards DC, Bowes C, Coulter J, Pickering K, Kozhevnikova E, Durham J, Nile CJ, Jakubovics N, Rostami N, Holliday R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Oral Rehabilitation

Year: 2021

Volume: 48

Issue: 1

Pages: 61-72

Print publication date: 23/12/2020

Online publication date: 23/09/2020

Acceptance date: 10/09/2020

Date deposited: 16/10/2020

ISSN (print): 0305-182X

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2842

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/joor.13098

PubMed id: 32966633


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
RPGF1810/101Dunhill Medical Trust