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Local Exhaust Ventilation to Control Dental Aerosols and Droplets

Lookup NU author(s): James AllisonORCiD, Christopher Dowson, Kimberley Pickering, Greta Cervinskyte, Professor Justin DurhamORCiD, Professor Nicholas JakubovicsORCiD, Dr Richard HollidayORCiD



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


Dental procedures produce aerosols which 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. 10-minute crown preparations were performed with an air-turbine handpiece in the open plan clinic, and 10-minute 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 – 10.0 μm and liquid cyclone air samplers were used to capture aerosolised fluorescein tracer. Additionally, 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 (HEPA) 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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Allison JR, Dowson C, Pickering K, Cervinskyte G, Durham J, Jakubovics N, Holliday R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Dental Research

Year: 2022

Volume: 101

Issue: 4

Pages: 384-391

Print publication date: 01/04/2022

Online publication date: 10/11/2021

Acceptance date: 12/10/2021

Date deposited: 12/10/2021

ISSN (print): 0022-0345

ISSN (electronic): 1544-0591

Publisher: Sage


DOI: 10.1177/00220345211056287


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