Buying an air purifier for dental practices

Dental practices perform many different procedures that release pollutants and particles into the air. These dangerous contaminants may cause negative health effects in both the dental staff and the patients visiting the dental practice. Which pollutants, more specifically, do we encounter in a dental office? How can an air purifier for dental practices help? Read on to learn more.

A dentist working on a patient

Dental practices: a risk area for indoor pollutants

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, society has begun to emphasise the importance of improved indoor air quality (IAQ). Many professional establishments suffer from poor air quality with indoor pollutant levels generally measuring 2 to 5 times higher than outdoor pollutant levels. These levels may reach up to 100 times higher when polluting products are used, especially in healthcare facilities. Dental practices are no exception.

Inside dental offices, contaminants falling into each of the three main categories of air pollutants have been detected: biological pollution, chemical pollution, and fine particle pollution. All of these types may lead to disease and/or infection.

Biological pollution

Biological pollution consists of any air pollutant that is sourced from living organisms. Some common examples include dust mites, pet hair and dander, pollen, mould and its spores, and viruses and bacteria. Although all of these pollutants may be found in a dental practice, viruses and bacteria are typically the most concerning. Many dental procedures use high-velocity dental equipment like rotary instruments, air and water syringes, and scalers that emit both air and water. These procedures are referred to as ‘aerosol generating procedures’ or AGPs1. The aerosols and micro-droplets emitted by AGPs remain airborne for up to several hours. This, combined with the fact that most dental offices have insufficient ventilation, creates the perfect storm for pathogen transmission.

As we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus is transmitted via aerosol droplets that are released when people in close proximity talk, sneeze, cough, sing, or even breathe through their mouths. A recent study found that the vast majority of aerosol droplets emitted by humans – 80 to 90% – are smaller than 1 micron in size, making them invisible to the naked eye and easily inhaled into the upper respiratory tract2. A dentist works directly in patients’ mouths, putting them at higher risk of coming in direct contact with patients’ mouth bacteria (including SARS-CoV-2) and transmitting respiratory infections and viruses than many other professionals. This is why non-emergency dental procedures were placed on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A patient at the dentist

Chemical pollution

Significant levels of chemical pollution, specifically volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are found in dental practices. VOCs are released into indoor air by everyday items including cleaning and sanitising products, adhesives and glues, paints, lacquers, pesticides, and other products used for maintenance in a dental office. New furniture is also notorious for the chemical pollution that it contributes to indoor air quality. It has been found to release formaldehyde, a VOC that is a known carcinogen in humans, for up to two years!

A 2015 study performed at six separate dental practices throughout southern Taiwan found 68 different VOCs suspended in the air. Several of these VOC compounds were carcinogenic, known for posing negative effects on human health. Two of the non-carcinogenic VOCs also contribute to increased health risks: methylene methacrylate and acetone4.

Fine particle pollution

Outdoor emissions of particulate matter (PM) have an enormous impact on indoor air quality. Dental clinics located in highly-trafficked or polluted areas, such as near motorways or industrial sites, have higher concentrations of fine particle pollution than dental offices located further from these areas. Nearby construction sites are also major contributors to PM levels found indoors5. When these outdoor pollutants find their way indoors through windows or doors, they become trapped inside without sufficient ventilation.

Outdoor air pollution aside, dental practices have high levels of both PM10 and PM2.5. This is often caused by the use of powders for cavity improvement, periodontal prophylactic cleaning, and the removal of bacterial biofilms2. PM2.5 is the most dangerous type of particulate matter in regards to human health, but exposure to any type of fine particle pollution (PM10, PM2.5, and PM0.1) has an impact on health. Some of those effects are:

  • Increased hospitalisations for respiratory and cardiovascular disease and infection
  • Increased risk of lung cancer
  • Triggering of asthma attacks and allergies
  • Premature mortality
  • Stunted growth and lung function in infants
  • Negative pregnancy outcomes

Sources of air pollution in a dental practice

Which procedures lead to indoor air pollution in a dental office? Typically, aerosol droplets (also referred to as ‘air splatters’) are spread through clinical examination, diagnostics, and/or therapeutic treatments2. These airborne pathogens are then easily inhaled into the lungs where they can pass through the bloodstream and access other organs of the body. Bacteria and viruses are also spread through:

  • Inhaling airborne bacteria and viruses during dentists’ examinations or treatments of the patient
  • Inhaling airborne bacteria and viruses in waiting rooms when a person coughs or sneezes
  • Direct contact with blood, tissue, and oral fluids
  • Exposure to oral or nasal mucosa
  • Exposure to non-sterilised equipment, a main source of infection3

Toxic agents and micro-particles suspended in the air due to dental procedures range from organic solvents, aldehydes, catalysts, microparticles containing mercury, VOCs, carbon dioxide, and essential oils2. Disinfectants and chemicals used for sanitation and disinfection all contribute to indoor air pollution in dental practices.

A dentist working on a patient

The benefits of an air purifier for dental practices

Installing an air purifier (also known as an ‘air steriliser’ or ‘air cleaner’) in a dental clinic provides a multitude of benefits for the health of both dental practitioners and patients.

Protect your patients

Studies have shown that installing an air purifier in dental practices leads to a significant reduction in concentrations of bacteria and viruses, particulate matter, VOCs, and CO2. Removing these compounds from the air keeps dental office patients safe from the spread of airborne viruses and bacteria as well as the dangers of VOCs and particulate matter.

One such study was performed in a postgraduate clinic at the University of Athens Dentistry School during the COVID-19 pandemic. When an air purifier was installed, the study recorded reduced levels of VOCs, PM2.5, and PM10 during the experimental period. The study stated that when used in combination with mechanical ventilation, installation of an air purifier in dental practices provides significant improvements to indoor air quality6.

Protect your staff

Dental practice staff members are at the highest risk of experiencing negative health effects as a result of air pollutants present in their dental practices. By reducing the number of air pollutants found in these spaces with an air purifier for dental practices, staff members in a dental clinic are better protected from the dangers of airborne pathogens, VOCs, and particulate matter. This includes safeguarding dental staff from SARS-CoV-2. Additionally, the presence of an air purifier for dental offices helps to boost employee confidence. Knowing that they are working in a place that values their health, dentists and other staff members feel more at ease and capable of putting forth their best work to provide safe dental treatments.

A 2022 study found that by installing a portable air cleaner (air purifier) in a single-bed hospital room, aerosol droplets were removed from the air five times faster than a room with only a HVAC system. This same level of protection can be achieved for other small healthcare treatment rooms, like those in a dental clinic, by installing an air filtration system7.

Reduce fallow time between patients

Another added benefit of installing an air purifier in a dental practice is that it helps reduce fallow time between patients. Air purifiers for dental practices that are equipped with UVC sterilisation technologies, for example, are capable of clearing treatment rooms of all pathogens in just a few minutes. Switching an air cleaner on its highest speed between patients helps to increase dentist patient throughput and patient consultations.

A dentist looking inside a patient's mouth

How to choose an air purifier for dental practices

Air cleaners are offered in many shapes, sizes, and with a seemingly endless variety of options and technologies. When choosing an air purifier for dental practices, a few features should be prioritised.

Filter type

Due to the diversity of air pollutants found in a dental office, it is important to choose a device that can do it all. It should be able to combat bacteria and viruses, allergens, fine particle pollution, and VOCs. Certain air purifiers are designed to combat only one or two of these types of air pollution, so they only offer one or two air filtration technologies. Eoleaf air purifiers, however, come equipped with a proprietary, multi-layer air filtration technology that is perfect for combatting all types of pollution found in a dental practice. Our filters contain all of the following:

Our HEPA-certified H13 filters effectively capture and remove 99.97% of particles down to a size of 0.01 microns. Read more about our 8 different filtration technologies here.

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) and Air Changes per Hour (ACH)

These two metrics are particularly important when calculating the efficacity of an air purifier for dental practices or other healthcare establishments. They assist in minimising the fallow time between patient sessions in dental treatment rooms, especially after aerosol droplet-generating procedures.

CADR determines an air cleaner’s ability to remove pollutants from your indoor air by telling you what volume of air (room size) can be treated by the device. ACH is the amount of times per hour that the air in a room is renewed with purified air. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends an ACH value of at least 5 (meaning that the air is replaced 5 times per hour).

Noise level

Investing in an air purifier for a dental practice that is efficient but quiet should be the goal. Whilst running on its slowest fan speed, an air cleaner should be near-silent so as not to disturb patients or distract dental staff members.

Budget

An air purifier’s budget consists of three parts: 1) the initial cost of the device, 2) the maintenance costs like replacement filters, and 3) operating costs associated with energy consumption. Firstly, initial pricing of an air steriliser device can vary greatly. Lower-end air cleaners may cost around £200 whereas higher-end air cleaners may cost upwards of £1,000. Secondly, lower-quality air purifiers need more frequent filter changes which augments your maintenance costs. Eoleaf’s high-quality filters only require changing once per year. Thirdly, be sure to seek out energy-efficient units to avoid racking up your energy bill.

Smart features

Certain high-end devices come with the ability to control your device remotely using an app on your smartphone, a remote control, or both (like Eoleaf’s devices which are compatible with the Tuya Smart app!). The added convenience of smart features makes it easy to control your device from another room, track your air quality at a glance, and set smart scheduling.

Placement

With a mobile air purifier for dental practices, like those offered here at Eoleaf, you can move around your device as needed. Our AERO PRO 100 and AERO PRO 150 devices come equipped with convenient wheels and handles for seamless movement! Having a mobile device makes it easy to switch your device’s location from one room to another, unlike wall-mounted devices that do not have the option to be mobile.

Ensure that you do not place your device where it will be obstructed by furniture, dental equipment, or walls. Avoid corners! Once your device is in place, when set in Automatic mode, it requires minimal interaction and will provide continuous air filtration in your dental practice.

Eoleaf's AEROPRO 150 air purifier next to a dentist's chair


Resources

1 Importance of air filtration in dental rooms. GAMA Healthcare. (2022, March 24). https://gamahealthcare.com/latest/importance-air-filtration-dental-rooms

2 Tzoutzas I, Karoussis I, Maltezou HC. Air Quality in Dental Care Facilities: Update to Current Management and Control Strategies Implementing New Technologies: A Comprehensive Review. Vaccines (Basel). 2022 May 26;10(6):847. doi: 10.3390/vaccines10060847. PMID: 35746455; PMCID: PMC9227829.

3 Ayyed AB. Dental Practice Infection Control Measurements: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreaks. Int J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2020 May-Jun;13(3):279-283. doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1770. PMID: 32904057; PMCID: PMC7450185.

4 Hong YJ, Huang YC, Lee IL, Chiang CM, Lin C, Jeng HA. Assessment of volatile organic compounds and particulate matter in a dental clinic and health risks to clinic personnel. J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2015;50(12):1205-14. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2015.1055129. PMID: 26301846.

5 Cocârţă, D.M.; Prodana, M.; Demetrescu, I.; Lungu, P.E.M.; Didilescu, A.C. Indoor Air Pollution with Fine Particles and Implications for Workers’ Health in Dental Offices: A Brief Review. Sustainability 2021, 13, 599. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020599

6 Tzoutzas I, Maltezou HC, Barmparesos N, Tasios P, Efthymiou C, Assimakopoulos MN, Tseroni M, Vorou R, Tzermpos F, Antoniadou M, Panis V, Madianos P. Indoor Air Quality Evaluation Using Mechanical Ventilation and Portable Air Purifiers in an Academic Dentistry Clinic during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Greece. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Aug 23;18(16):8886. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18168886. PMID: 34444634; PMCID: PMC8395055.

7 Lee JH, Rounds M, McGain F, Schofield R, Skidmore G, Wadlow I, Kevin K, Stevens A, Marshall C, Irving L, Kainer M, Buising K, Monty J. Effectiveness of portable air filtration on reducing indoor aerosol transmission: preclinical observational trials. J Hosp Infect. 2022 Jan;119:163-169. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2021.09.012. Epub 2021 Sep 23. PMID: 34562547; PMCID: PMC8481008.

Eoleaf's range of air purifiers

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