Decon Pete – what can we do to reduce dental aerosol?

Decon Pete ACH and reducing aerosolThis month Pete looks at how making small changes to the dental instruments we use can help reduce the amount of aerosols produced and therefore the fallow time.

In last month’s article we discussed air changes per hour (ACH) and how this can influence the overall fallow time between patients.

The aim for all dental practices is to try to work towards the shortest time. This allows you to see more patients, without compromising safety. The way to achieve this is to expel or reduce the amount of aerosol that we produce.

Your choice of dental handpiece

Although ventilation is the main way of achieving fresh replenishment of air, there are many products on the market that can help to make significant reductions in the level of aerosol produced.

One such way, and an instrument that dentistry uses for many procedures, is your choice of dental handpiece.

There are several studies that look at the production of aerosol in relation to the design of the handpiece. The more water spray ports that you have will aid the reduction in aerosol produced. The smaller the bur diameter will effectively have a lower circumferential speed and result in less aerosol.

We should also replace worn out tools. These increase the work time and make the spray less precise, resulting in more splatter.

Consider using an electric motor rather than an air-driven handpiece. The spread of aerosols can partially be caused by turbines at the burr and speed of its surface.

When you consider that a turbine can have a speed of up to 450,000 rpm, it is easy to understand that there will be a vast increase in aerosol production from the burr tip.

Electric motors, on the other hand, have an idle speed of approximately 40,000 rpm. This results in a burr speed of 200,000 rpm for a speed increasing 1:5.

Electric motors

Electric motor driven handpieces have other benefits. Unlike turbines they can maintain a constant cutting speed and torque. This is determined by the operator, regardless of the material cut.

A turbine, on the other hand, will have its speed dramatically reduced the moment the burr comes into contact with a material surface. Hence this will increase the working time and therefore have an impact on fallow time.

If you have never used or considered an electric motor driven handpiece, you should consider talking with a manufacturer who can advise you on the best approach.

This consideration will also help immensely when working out group A procedures.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or visit

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Catch the previous Decon Pete column:

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