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An experimental approach to analyze aerosol and splatter formations due to a dental procedure

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journal contribution
posted on 20.07.2022, 20:10 authored by EA Haffner, M Bagheri, JE Higham, Lyndon CooperLyndon Cooper, Susan RowanSusan Rowan, Clark StanfordClark Stanford, Farzad MashayekFarzad Mashayek, Parisa MirbodParisa Mirbod
Throughout 2020 and beyond, the entire world has observed a continuous increase in the infectious spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) otherwise known as COVID-19. The high transmission of this airborne virus has raised countless concerns regarding safety measures employed in the working conditions for medical professionals. Specifically, those who perform treatment procedures on patients which intrinsically create mists of fine airborne droplets, i.e., perfect vectors for this and other viruses to spread. The present study focuses on understanding the splatter produced due to a common dentistry technique to remove plaque buildup on teeth. This technique uses a high-speed dentistry instrument, e.g., a Cavitron ultrasonic scaler, to scrape along the surface of a patient's teeth. This detailed understanding of the velocity and the trajectory of the droplets generated by the splatter will aid in the development of hygiene mechanisms to guarantee the safety of those performing these procedures and people in clinics or hospitals. Optical flow tracking velocimetry (OFTV) method was employed to obtain droplet velocity and trajectory in a two-dimensional plane. Multiple data collection planes were taken in different orientations around a model of adult mandibular teeth. This technique provided pseudo-three-dimensional velocity information for the droplets within the splatter developed from this high-speed dental instrument. These results indicated that within the three-dimensional splatter produced there were high velocities (1-2 m/s) observed directly below the intersection point between the front teeth and the scaler. The splatter formed a cone-shape structure that propagated 10-15 mm away from the location of the scaler tip. From the droplet trajectories, it was observed that high velocity isolated droplets propagate away from the bulk of the splatter. It is these droplets which are concerning for health safety to those performing the medical procedures. Using a shadowgraphy technique, we further characterize the individual droplets' size and their individual velocity. We then compare these results to previously published distributions. The obtained data can be used as a first step to further examine flow and transport of droplets in clinics/dental offices.



Haffner, E. A., Bagheri, M., Higham, J. E., Cooper, L., Rowan, S., Stanford, C., Mashayek, F.Mirbod, P. (2021). An experimental approach to analyze aerosol and splatter formations due to a dental procedure. Experiments in Fluids, 62(10), 202-. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00348-021-03289-2


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