Aerosol and droplet production is inherent to dentistry. Potential for COVID-19 spread
through aerosols and droplets characterizes dentistry as having a high risk of experiencing
viral transmission, with necessity for aerosol and droplet mitigation.
Simulations of restorative treatment were completed on a dental manikin with a high-speed
handpiece and high-volume evacuation suction. Variable experimental conditions with
use of an extraoral vacuum suction at different distances from the simulated patient’s
mouth and different vacuum settings were tested to evaluate extraoral suction ability
for droplet reduction.
Using the extraoral suction unit during dental procedure simulations reduced droplet
spatter at the dentist’s eye level, as well as the level of the simulated patient’s
mouth. When the extraoral suction unit was used at level 10 and 4 inches from the
simulated patient’s mouth, less spatter was detected.
Extraoral suction units are an effective method of reducing droplet spatter during
operative dental procedures and can be useful in helping reduce risk of experiencing
COVID-19 spread during dental procedures.
During the pandemic, dentistry and its aerosol-generating procedures were placed on
hold. The process to getting back to patient care is multifactorial, including personal
protective equipment, patient screening, and mitigating aerosol spread.