Q: I am still scared to go to the dentist. I read on line about the aerosol produced when you have cleanings or dental work that can spread around the office. What is your take on this?
A: With 32 years of practice in implant, cosmetic and general dentistry, I have seen products come and go. Some are still in use, such as the high-speed drill, lasers and no-goop digital impression scanners. Some have fallen out of vogue faster than the Pet Rock and the Palm Pilot. Does anyone use a Blackberry anymore? Great for those who are all thumbs.
Although there has not been any proof of transmission of the Corona virus via a dental offices or dental office personnel, you will start to see offices incorporate extraoral suction units for extra safety. We will be one of , if not THE, first office on the Eastern Seaboard to install these units in our office, probably by the time you read this column.
Normally while being drilled or ultrasonically cleaned, you will have the slow speed suction tube, bent like a question mark and the high speed suction tube, a straight pipe, in your mouth sucking up the aerosol vapor which consists of saliva, water and blood (depending on the procedure.)
Extraoral suctions look like the business end of a vacuums cleaner with a clear funnel shaped attachment outside the mouth, sucking all the extra aerosol spraying out of your mouth. The aerosol is decontaminated as it goes through four layers of particle, HEPPA and UV filters. (Just Google Extraoral Suction and click on “Videos”. You will find some truly compelling videos that made me and hopefully other doctors in my field to invest thousands of dollars in purchasing these awesome machines.)
There are a couple of scientific studies that show 99.97% of the aerosol is removed, resulting in zero growth of microbes on petri dishes.
This will also allow your hygienist to go back to using the ultrasonic scaler in addition to hand scaling, resulting in better stain and tartar removal; the direct cause of periodontal disease and bad breath.
Due to the high cost of this device and the backlog of orders, I don’t believe you will find it in many offices. We look forward to providing this extra effort in patient safety.