Graduation Date

Fall 12-16-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Medical Sciences Interdepartmental Area

First Advisor

Minnie Vishwanath

Second Advisor

Chandran Achutan

Third Advisor

Greg Oakley

Fourth Advisor

Tom Petro


Introduction: Aerosol production is a key contributor to occupational risk and disease transmission in the dental clinic. These aerosols can host harmful pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2. Considering the 2020 pandemic, researchers endeavored to bolster the existing body of literature related to disease transmission via aerosols and droplets to provide better recommendations for infection control. This investigation aims to support that mission by characterizing the risk to orthodontic professionals and patients based on aerosolized particle size and travel distance. Methods: The experimental protocol used in this study was validated through a smaller scale pilot study in 2021. High- and Low-risk orthodontic procedures were performed in a simulated clinical setting and the particle production was measured using optical particle counters positioned 30 in. and 6 ft. from the procedure site. A total of 5 different procedural variations were performed 15 times each. Results: High-speed debonding procedures without exhaust routinely produce the highest number of airborne particles, while slow-speed debonding with HVE and LEV result in the lowest particle accumulation at both near and far distances. A negative correlation (r= -0.78) was observed between particle size and concentration (p<.0001). Conclusion: Orthodontic procedures which utilize the high-speed handpiece without exhaust are high-risk for generating aerosolized particles. While the overall particle production is decreased for low-risk procedures like slow-speed debond with exhausts, concentrations of the smallest particle size are comparable to that of a high-risk procedure. Aerosols generated during orthodontic procedures show a size-dependent concentration gradient with more particle production associated with decreasing particle diameter.


2022 Copyright, the authors

Available for download on Monday, December 02, 2024