The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for dental hygienists to be aware of aerosols and spatter. In the past aerosols and spatter have been a concern, but never to the degree it is today. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a thorn in the side of dentistry since day one, however it has encouraged and pushed many dental professionals to consider how we can make patients more comfortable and safer while sitting in our chairs. A recent pilot study published in September 2020 in the Microbiology Research Report compared the “aerosol and spatter reduction efficacy of various hands-free high-volume evacuation (HVE) systems during ultrasonic scaling procedure.”1
Each ultrasonic scaling procedure was completed by the same hygienists. Prior to the first patient, HVE lines were cleaned, and a control sample of the air was taken. The ultrasonic scaler was set to 60 Hz with the water set on the highest spray level. All quadrants of the mouth were treated with a time frame of 2 minutes and 60 seconds for each side of the mouth. TSA settling plates were used to determine CFU, the plates were positioned on the patient’s chest 8 inches from their mouth. Additionally, an air sampling plate was used to collect air quality samples for 5 minutes during each procedure and were replaced with a new plate between conditions. There was a ten-minute room turnaround time between each patient. Five separate conditions were utilized 1) standard HVE, 2) Mr. Thirsty®, 3) Isodry®, 4) Dry Shield®, 5) Ivory ReLeaf™.
Air sampling CFUs for patient A varied from 19 to 46 with the results from lowest to highest as follows: Dry Shield® (19), ReLeaf™(22), Isodry® (25), Mr. Thirsty® (33), and HVE (46). Air sampling data for Patient B varied between 56 to 89 CFUs, overall results as follows: Isodry®(55), ReLeaf™(61), HVE (64), Mr. Thirsty®(65), and Dry Shield® (89). Air sampling data for patient C varied between 31 and 56 CFUs, overall results as follows: Isodry® (31), HVE (40), Mr. Thirsty® (51), Dry Shield® (53), and ReLeaf™ (56).
Chest settling plate CFUs for patient A varied from 50 to 152 with results from lowest to highest as follows: Dry Shield® (50), Mr. Thirsty® (58), HVE (63), IsoDry® (87), and ReLeaf™ (152). Chest sampling data for patient B varied between 1 to 35 CFUs, overall results as follows: ReLeaf™ (1), Dry Shield® (13), IsoDry® (17), HVE (34), and Mr. Thirsty® (35). Chest sampling data from patient C varied between 4 to 41 CFUs, overall results as follows: HVE (4), Mr. Thirsty® (6), ReLeaf™ (23), Dry Shield® (29), and IsoDry® (41).
The author concludes by stating, “Preliminary data in this pilot study showed Mr. Thirsty® to perform most similarly to a standard HVE in both air sampling and chest spatter plates while also giving the dental professional the advantage of utilizing a hands-free high-volume suction.”
Are you currently using and HVE device when using an ultrasonic scaler? If you are utilizing a standard HVE, do you find it cumbersome? Would you consider an alternative like Mr. Thirsty®?
Finnerty, Darlene. Aerosol and Spatter Reduction Efficacy of Mr. Thirsty® and Alternative Products. Microbiology Research Report. September 2020, Number 140.