Dentistry’s Aerosols: Giving the Dangerous Bugs the Attention they Deserve
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Dental professionals must be aware of the potential risks involved within the dental clinic, educate themselves to prevent contamination, and protect all persons within their environment. The production of aerosols and splatter in dentistry is one of the biggest concerns about the spread of infection among both dental professionals and their patients.
With over 700 species of bacteria,1 the mouth can harbor infectious strains that, when aerosolized, can linger for up to 30 minutes in the air.2 When inhaled, dental aerosols can cause respiratory health effects or transmit bidirectional diseases.
The use of high-speed equipment such as scalers and drills in the presence of bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, and plaque has been shown to create dental aerosols that contain microorganisms and blood.3 This is a major concern for infection control within dental surgery. With many dental professionals not protecting themselves or their patients with correct fitting, appropriate level masks, high volume suction, or the use of products that protect the patient’s nasal passages, it’s time to reevaluate the conversation around aerosol management in the dental office and begin taking serious measures to control the risk for both dental professionals and patients.