Overview

With the rapid pandemic incited by SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease COVID-19, there has been a renewed interest in aerosols in the dental office. Overall, respiratory infections — both chronic and acute — contribute to up to 6 million deaths annually, and these diseases are highly communicable. Many respiratory infections have been linked to oral microbiota and/or other opportunistic oral microorganisms. Dental procedures that employ handpieces, lasers, electrosurgery units, ultrasonic scalers, air polishers, prophy angles, hand instruments or air/water syringes can create bioaerosols and spatter. Ultrasonic scalers and high-speed handpieces produce more airborne contamination than any other instrument in dentistry. As dental procedures and technologies have evolved, the incidence of aerosol-creating procedures has increased. Inhalation of aerosols produced during dental procedures may cause adverse respiratory health effects and bidirectional disease transmission.