Many procedures performed by the dental team have the potential to create aerosols containing microbes from the oral cavity. Aerosols are tiny particles or droplets which can float in the air for considerable time before being inhaled by dental staff and patients. These aerosols are contaminated with microorganisms and blood and thus represent an infection hazard. A 400% increase of airborne bacteria has been observed in areas where aerosol producing equipment was used.
It is likely that the use of ultrasonic scalers is the most significant source of airborne microbial contamination. Numerous airborne particles derived from blood, saliva, tooth debris, dental plaque, calculus and restorative material are produced by an ultrasonic scaler when used in combination with water spray. The level of aerosol contamination during this type of treatment is three times higher than during other dental treatments.
Aerosols don’t just stay in the operatory. They travel throughout the entire office. Everyone in a dental office is breathing air contaminated by microbes, detergents, solvents, particulates, and metals.
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