Aerosol particles during dental aerosol generating procedures in dental clinics
The dispersion of aerosol particles during standard dental aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs) performed on phantoms in six dental clinics from the Faculty of Dentistry of the National University of Colombia was evaluated using colored saliva to simulate natural saliva. Dental procedures were performed using four aerosol-generating instruments: high-speed handpiece, pneumatic scaler, ultrasonic scaler, and triple syringe. These instruments were used in a total of 48 procedures, sorted as follows: eight procedures per clinic in six clinics, corresponding to two procedures replicated in two different placements within each clinic, and in two different conditions of ventilation —open window and closed window—. The gravity-deposited aerosol particles were registered using filter paper placed within the perimeter of the phantom head and the settled particles were recorded in standardized photographs. The digital images were processed to analyze the stained area and the dimensions of the drops. Different areas within the perimeter of the phantom head (up to 320 cm away from each phantom’s mouth) were covered to obtain 1256 samples collected from settled aerosol particles. The highest percentage of aerosol particles generated during the dental AGPs ranged from 1 to 5 µm in size. Aerosol particles were able to reach a distance of 320 cm away from the mouth of the phantom head, with a cut-off point of 78 cm as a risk factor.
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Microsoft Office Excel 2010 (Microsoft Corporation, Redmond, Washington, USA) was used for the database construction. The raw data were gathered in a worksheet. The independent variables —i.e., ventilation, distance from the mouth, instrument used, region in the mouth to be treated, location within the perimeter area, division between units, and placement of the dental unit with regards to the windows, are shown. The areas stained by the aerosol particles on the filter papers and the size of the particles were registered.