Indoor Air Quality Challenges In Dental Offices

During a procedure, whether it is the doctor specifically or the technician assisting her, a dentist is doing more than just filling a cavity; she’s keeping her patient, her staff, and herself safe from toxic dust and fumes that could cause illness.

During any dental office procedure, there are numerous substances that are emitted into the air in the form of fumes and dust. Acrylates and methacrylates, in particular, can prove problematic. Roughly defined as the compound that results when water released after the root acid (acrylic or methacrylic acid) and alcohol mix, (meth)acrylates, also known as polymethyl methacrylate, or dental PMMA, have been synthetically reproduced to be used in paints, adhesives, printing inks, and other materials including dental bonding agents.

The Two Most Common Dental PMMAs & How They Occur

Two of the most common volatile (meth)acrylates found in dentistry are 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate and methyl methacrylate.  Exposure to dental PMMA can occur with a procedure as simple as filling a cavity.

After a dentist prepares the instruments needed and readies his patient, he will administer an anesthetic to reduce or eliminate pain. Subsequently, he will remove the damaged tooth portion before replacing the missing part with a composite or amalgam filling. It is during the drilling and filling stages that potential exposure is most significant.

The result? Dental PMMAs can trigger health complications when ingested, inhaled, or if contact is made with eyes or skin. Short-term exposures can produce ear, nose, throat, and skin irritation. Long-term exposure can elicit skin rash. Furthermore, there are additional studies that support findings of resultant occupational asthma. In fact, Canada’s OSHA equivalent, CCOHS, went so far as to formally warn their nation’s workers of the risks involved with working with dental PMMAs – most significantly, developing asthma

Despite international findings linking dental PMMAss to occupational asthma, OSHA presently has no standards protecting those who work in the dental industry

Our U.S. dental community should be forewarned. Ill-effects from dental PMMAs are not just a North American problem; the World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged the issue and recommended air impurity containment and ventilation to control exposure.

The World Health Organization’s Perspective On Dental PMMAs 

Containment consists in placing a physical barrier between the substance and people… Local exhaust ventilation is the removal of airborne contaminants close to their source of generation or release before they can spread and reach the worker’s breathing zone. For this, it is necessary to ensure that the airflow is sufficient and its direction appropriate

At Air Systems Inc, we value our customers in the field of dentistry. Our Extract-All dental air purification products capture airborne particles and neutralize contaminants such as chemical fumes and dust, bacteria, and viruses. Our specialists are trained and experienced and are ready to offer you clean air solutions for your dental practice. For superior systems and products, please contact an Air Systems Inc specialist today for a free and thorough Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) analysis.

Dental Extraoral Suction System [VIDEO]

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The Dental Clean Air Purifier is portable and easy to use and it provides the protection and peace of mind your staff and patients need.

At Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc., we provide our dental industry customers with our 30 plus years of indoor environmental experience as well as our high-quality air cleaning products. Contact us today and ask about our Extract-All 987 Dental Clean Air systems.

Dental Aerosol Contamination Management and Indoor Air Quality Measures

Dental Aerosol Contamination Management and Indoor Air Quality Measures 1

As we have all learned during our heightened state of pandemic awareness, a healthy indoor air quality is a medical necessity. Especially for first responders and other medical workers. But when it comes to the risk of harm from infectious disease, there are other industries that are considered high-risk; such as the dental profession.


There are occupational health risks that threaten the well-being of dentists, their staff, and the patients they serve. The main risk dental office workers face is contracting illness which is caused by the aerosols created during patient treatment. Dental aerosol contamination of the indoor medical environment occurs when germs from an infected patient become airborne and linger.


The human mouth contains innumerable germs/microbes that can spread through casual contact. But the greatest risk is through aerosolization such as a cough or a sneeze. But germs may also be spread during routine dental procedures and oral surgery that generate their own aerosols.

Dental aerosol contamination can be defined as the splatters, mists, and droplets created from the use of certain dental instruments. These fine sprays and particles include saliva, blood, plaque, and oral debris and can travel distances up to 20 feet and linger in the air and on surfaces long after the patient has left the office.

To illustrate the significant threat that dental aerosol contamination  poses to the dental community, consider the information from a recent article published about contamination longevity for the COVID 19 virus.

Coronavirus germ life:

• On plastic and stainless-steel surfaces, the virus is viable for up to 72 hours.
• On cardboard surfaces, up to 24 hours.
• On copper surfaces, up to nine hours.
• Suspending in the environment, for up to three hours.


The chain of infection refers to the series of events that allow pathogens to cause infection in a person. This chain begins with an infectious agent, or pathogen, finding an instantaneous means of exit (sneeze, cough, or dental procedure).

A typical manner of transmission is when germ-laden saliva is projected via a cough or sneeze. But in a dental setting, this aerosolization is created by even standard procedures such as ultrasonic scaling, tooth abrasion or polishing, or operating an air-water syringe. The use of high-speed equipment such as scalers and drills in the presence of bodily fluids allows pathogens the opportunity to spread rapidly, making even routine dental procedures a potential threat. 

Add oral surgery to the list of procedures performed and there are a lot of aerosols emitted into the breathing space of the dental workers and other patients

Once an infected patient coughs or aerosols from a dental procedure are emitted, dental aerosol contamination occurs, and the time and distance traveled will depend on the size of the particles. Droplets are heavier and tend to fall and land at closer distances. As the droplets begin to evaporate, they diminish in size and float in the atmosphere where they become airborne vehicles of infectious transmission. See chart of transmission, below.

Dental Aerosol Contamination Management and Indoor Air Quality Measures 2


Every day pathogens are transmitted within a given community. Oftentimes, transmission happens between members who are either asymptomatic or who do not recognize their illness or understand that it is contagious. Therefore, dental practices should treat all patients as if they can transmit disease.

The health risks vary from viruses such as the common flu or coronavirus to bacteria such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. The number of microbes at large will vary as will the severity of illness they can cause due to time, location, and the health and vulnerability of the individual who contracts the illness. For example, viruses, such as COVID 19, are smaller than even the most minuscule of bacterial germs, are rapid reproducers, and are much more likely to cause illness which drives home the importance of eliminating the possibility that germs are spread within a dental office.


To keep workers and patients safe, the goal should be to eliminate the vehicle of germ transmission by stopping it before it can become a problem. To do this, multiple precautionary strategies will need to be employed. No one’s defense against infection will work on its own. Only multiple strategies, working in tandem, will create a safe and healthy indoor air quality.

In addition to basic medical hygiene practices such as handwashing and the use of antimicrobial hand sanitizers, dental practices should adopt the following four-step method for the most complete means of keeping illness at bay: 

Proper safety protocol should always include:

1. PPE, personal protective equipment including gloves and facemasks
2. Antiseptic mouth rinse before and after a procedure
3. HVE, High-velocity air evacuation unit
4. Portable HEPA air filtration system

Following these control guidelines is the first step in preventing illness from taking hold of dental practitioners, hygienists, and patients. The second step is to contact an experienced indoor air quality specialist to find out what product makes sense for your practice.

At Air Impurities Removal Systems, Inc., we provide our dental industry customers with our 30 plus years of indoor environmental experience as well as our high-quality air cleaning products. Contact us today and ask about our Extract-All 987 Dental Clean Air systems.