New mechanisms to control dental procedure spray emissions

spray from dental instruments
Photo: Leung Cho Pan – 123rf

Since the onset of COVID-19, the potential risk of dental procedure spray emissions for SARS-CoV-2 transmission has challenged care providers and policy makers alike. 

Now a study by UK researchers and published in the Journal of Dental Research (JDR) has found that there are multiple mechanisms for atomisation of fluids from rotatory instruments and that parameters can be controlled to modify key spray characteristics during the current crisis.

Using high speed imaging and laser light-sheet illumination, procedural sprays were studied with variables including rotation speed, burr to tooth contact and coolant pre-misting. 

Elimination of pre-misting (mixing of coolant water and air prior to burr contact) and use of relatively low rotation speeds resulted in significant reduction in small droplets. Cutting efficiency was reduced, but sufficient coolant effectiveness appeared to be maintained. 

“This research demonstrates that spray from dental instruments can be controlled without losing the ability to carry out dental treatment,” JDR editor-in-chief Nicholas Jakubovics said. 

“Being able to modify the spray creates a safer experience for patients and oral health care providers during this current pandemic.”


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