Dentists clear the air

23 December 2009

The use of air cleaners in dental clinics could make a significant difference to the health of dental workers, scientists claim.  The research, published today in the Royal Society journal Interface, uses computational fluid dynamics to analyse the way that potentially infectious droplets from dental patients’ mouths circulate around clinics and infect staff.  While similar research has previously been conducted in hospital settings, this is the first time such an analysis has been made in a dental clinic.

Dental workers are at a high risk of cross-infection from patients and the widespread use of central air conditioning systems in clinic buildings means that infections can easily spread from room to room. The research shows that air cleaners can be an effective way of reducing the spread of infection, but only when they are placed effectively, with the authors stressing that “the positioning of an air cleaner in the dental clinic is a particularly important consideration for controlling droplet and particle dispersion in dental clinics”.

The research was performed by an interdisciplinary team from the School of Architecture at Tsinghua University and the Peking University School and Hospital of Stomatology. The authors hope that the research will be carried further, particularly in connection to medical studies on the likelihood of infection from infectious airborne particles.

Read the full article here.