Air particulate concentration during orthodontic procedures during COVID-19 pandemic: a pilot study
Dental practices are potentially at risk of transmission for COVID-19 and some protocols have been established in order to make the risk as low as possible.
However, there prevails a tendency to think that orthodontists have a lower risk of disease compared to professionals in other fields of dentistry, but it has been found out that during treatment, the number of particles of 0.3 microns—which have a high capacity to penetrate the respiratory tract increase, suggests a study.
This study published in the BMC Oral Health Journal, evaluates the particle dispersion involved in dental procedures carried out during orthodontic treatments. Variants such as temperature and relative humidity in the dental cabinet were considered.
Inmaculada Martín-Quintero and associates from the Department of Orthodontics, Universidad Alfonso X El Sabio, Madrid, Spain conducted a pilot study using a particle counter, in which 98 consecutive recordings were made during appointments of patients undergoing orthodontic treatments.
Temperature, relative humidity and particles present at the beginning (AR) and during the appointment (BR) were recorded. A control record (CR) of temperature, relative humidity and particles present was made before the start of the clinical activity.
In addition to conventional statistics, differential descriptive procedures were used to analyse results, and the influence of relative humidity on particle concentration was analysed by statistical modelling with regression equations.
Results showed that the number of particles present, regardless of their size, was much higher in AR than in CR (p < .001). The same was true for relative humidity and ambient temperature. The relationship between relative humidity and particle number was determined to be exponential.
Although, limitations are associated with sample size, environmental conditions of the room and lack of discrimination among the procedures performed, the authors concluded that from the moment a patient enters a dental office, a large number of additional particles are generated.
This pilot study shows the significant increase in number of particles starting from the moment the patient enters the dental cabinet and removes the mask compared to those that existed during the basal environmental particles that may be found earlier. Regarding the particles generated during treatment, the main finding is an increase in particles of 0.3 micron.
The number of particles, especially smaller ones, increases from the time of control time with an empty room compared to the beginning of the treatment time (300%). This is important as it indicates that some of the measured particles are not exclusively generated by the treatment.