Aerosol spray is created when compressed air at high speed mixes with water and saliva. This plume of mist can carry bacteria or viruses present in the oral cavity—a significant concern in our current moment. The main factors that contribute to the amount of aerosol are the volume of water and the speed of the handpiece.
“When we performed side-by-side comparisons of aerosol spray patterns between air-driven high speed handpieces with water and chip air turned on and a Bien-Air electric attachment with chip air turned off, we saw a significant decrease in aerosol coverage area when using the electric attachment,” Mateen shared. “Bien-Air recommends the use of an electric attachment with limited water spray as the best option for reducing the ‘aerosol effect.’”
Electric handpieces help address both these concerns. Regarding spray, Bien-Air electric handpieces are the only electric handpieces that do not require a spray to operate and maintain acceptable operating temperatures; the limitations of competitor’s design requires water cooling for the bearings and heads so that it doesn’t get hot and negatively impact the patient. In addition, electric handpieces, by design, do not exhaust, any air backward into the handpiece tubing/delivery unit, and therefore do not contaminate any of those components.
“We were the only handpieces that could be used for long periods of time without requiring water to cool. While not a comprehensive solution, it does create the possibility for something safer,” said Daniel Call, Director of Sales for North America, Bien-Air USA. “I’m not making the claim that you can stop using irrigation, but we have the only handpiece body that would even allow for that in certain applications. If a practice was willing to have a dental assistant irrigate manually using a sterile syringe, you would produce none of the spray aerosol and not have any risk related to the exhaust. So you’ve just eliminated both of those two sources of aerosol production in the office.”