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J Periodontol. 1999 Jun;70(6):626-31.

Acoustic microstreaming: detection and measurement around ultrasonic scalers.

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School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham, UK.



Acoustic microstreaming (AMS) may be useful to the clinician when using the ultrasonic scaler to remove particulate matter from the teeth. The aim of this study was to detect and measure the effects of AMS produced by ultrasonic scalers.


For the study, an ultrasonic generator was selected with 4 differently shaped scaling tip inserts (TFI-3, TFI-9, TFI-1, and P-12). A plaque substitute (0.2 mm thick soft cream cheese) was coated onto a microscope slide and immersed in water. The ultrasonic scaler tip was placed in the water and orientated either perpendicular or parallel to the slide. The instrument was operated both contacting the slide under a load of 0.3 N and non-contacting at various distances from the slide surface. This was repeated with the tip parallel to the slide. The area of medium removed was quantified by digital image analysis.


It was found that AMS removed the plaque substitute from around the tip. The TFI-9 insert significantly removed more material with increasing displacement amplitude (P <0.05). Significantly larger areas of plaque substitute were removed when the tips of the TFI-3, TFI-9, and P-12 inserts were orientated perpendicularly to the slide compared to the parallel orientation (P <0.05). Of the 4 inserts used, the TFI-9 insert removed the most material while the straight tip produced no apparent removal. Removal by AMS required the presence of a water medium and such forces were found to decrease with distance from the scaling tip. No plaque substitute removal was seen at a distance of 7 mm for the TFI-9 insert at 37.5 microm displacement with the tip orientation parallel to the slide.


It is concluded that AMS occurs around ultrasonic scalers and this depends on the displacement amplitude, tip orientation, and presence of a water medium. AMS may play a role in disruption of subgingival biofilms associated with periodontal disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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