Reduction of aerosols produced by ultrasonic scalers

J Periodontol. 1996 Jan;67(1):28-32. doi: 10.1902/jop.1996.67.1.28.


There is concern with decreased air quality and potential aerosol contamination in the dental operatory. This problem has been addressed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends that all sources of blood-contaminated splatter and aerosols be minimized. One of the major sources of potential aerosol contamination in the dental setting is the ultrasonic scaler. This study looks at the use of a high volume evacuator attachment for the ultrasonic scaler handpiece. Artificial teeth were mock-scaled for 1 minute with and without the evacuator attachment. The mock scaling was performed within a plastic enclosure that had a 1 cm grid laid out on 4 sides. Scaling was performed 10 times each by 2 operators. An erythrosin solution was used for the ultrasonic scaler coolant with a coolant volume of 17.5 ml/min. The number of squares containing a red erythrosin spot were counted and considered to represent aerosol contamination. The high volume evacuator attachment produced a 93% reduction in the number of contaminated squares (chi squared significant at P < 0.05). There was no increase in heat transfer to a tooth analogue when the high volume evacuator attachment was used with the ultrasonic scaler as compared to the scaler without the evacuator attachment. It is felt that the high volume evacuator attachment is capable of significantly reducing the amount of aerosol contamination produced within the test system without increased heat transfer to the tooth.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / prevention & control*
  • Dental Offices*
  • Dental Scaling / instrumentation*
  • Energy Transfer
  • Equipment Design
  • Erythrosine
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Infection Control
  • Suction
  • Temperature
  • Tooth, Artificial
  • Ultrasonic Therapy / instrumentation*
  • Water


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Water
  • Erythrosine