Objectives: The objectives of this investigation were firstly to quantitatively and qualitatively determine particulate production during orthodontic debond and enamel cleanup procedures, and secondly to examine what methods can be employed to minimize operator exposure to such dust particles.
Methods: A qualitative study was performed to determine the aerodynamic diameters and compositions of particulates produced during simulated clinical debonds and enamel cleanup procedures on extracted teeth. In each case the enamel was cleaned using tungsten carbide burs in either a high or slow speed handpiece, with or without water coolant spray, with or without high volume evacuation (HVE) or a face mask.
Results: The use of a high speed handpiece with a tungsten carbide bur and water irrigation at enamel cleanup produced the greatest concentration of respirable particulates. Within this dust, calcium, phosphorus, aluminum and silicon were the most commonly found elements. The dust levels observed did not exceed limits advised for respirable dusts in general. However, the concentration of silica within the dusts created is unknown. The face mask and HVE were effective at reducing exposure to respirable particles, but the mask was most effective, reducing exposure by up to 96%.
Significance: A face mask is an effective means of reducing dust inhalation and is advised for all clinical procedures that produce dusts.