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J Occup Environ Hyg. 2009 Feb;6(2):121-30. doi: 10.1080/15459620802633957.

Measurement of airborne bacteria and endotoxin generated during dental cleaning.

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  • 1Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de l'Universite Laval, Hopital Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.


Dynamic dental instruments generate abundant aerosols in the work environment. Dental unit waterlines (DUWL) support a large microbial population and can be a significant source of bioaerosols generated during dental treatments. This study was conducted to characterize bioaerosol generation during dental treatments performed in standardized conditions. Culture-based method (R2A, and blood agar with and without O2) and fluorescence microscopy were used. Dental cleaning procedures were performed in an isolated treatment room with controlled ventilation rate. Andersen microbial samplers were used to collect culturable bioaerosols generated before (baseline), during, and after 2 hr of dental treatments. Inhalable dust samplers were used to measure total bioaerosols content in dental hygienist's and patients' breathing zones. AGI-30 were used for the collection of the endotoxin. The use of fluorescence microscopy in combination with culture demonstrated that dental staff and patients were exposed to up to 1.86 E+05 bacteria/m(3) generated during treatments. Fortunately, bioaerosols returned to baseline within 2 hr after the dental procedures. The small diameter of the aerosols generated (< 1 microm) suggests that the risk of contact between the aerosolized bacteria and the respiratory system of exposed individuals is likely to occur.

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