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Summerwood Family Dental knew that PPE was not enough to keep their patients and staff safe during aerosol generating procedures. They needed a permanent aerosol extraction system to reduce the risk of infectious disease transmission in their dental office.

Aerosol Extraction to Reduce the Risk of Infectious Disease Transmission During Routine Dental Procedures

In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, businesses across the country were forced to shut down and large gatherings were banned. Anything involving close contact was put on hold, and only essential businesses were allowed to keep their doors open.

Since dentists and dental workers are regularly exposed to aerosolized particles from the human mouth through routine dental procedures like drilling and cleanings, it’s no surprise they had to shut down, too. Though they take many precautions to ensure good hygiene and prevent the spread of disease, dental offices can present a favorable environment for COVID-19 to spread.

Dental offices are also susceptible to spreading other respiratory diseases, including the flu, which can travel in airborne particles. Dentists that use high-speed drills and other tools frequently engage in aerosol-generating processes that may pose a risk of exposure to infectious diseases.

Finding an Aerosol Control Solution for a Dental Setting

Summerwood Family Dental in Portland, Oregon, took a proactive, research-based approach to controlling aerosols when they reopened after the COVID-19 Stay at Home Orders.

With over 30 years experience of treating patients, Summerwood’s owner, Dr. Julie Spaniel was aware of the dangers of bodily fluids causing contamination in a dental office. In order to provide a safer, cleaner environment for themselves, their staff, and their patients, Dr. Spaniel knew she needed to evacuate the aerosols and remove them at the source.

“With COVID being aerosolized in the salivary fluids, I knew the velocity of these aerosols during a dental procedure was problematic. My dental drill runs at 500,000 – 700,000 revolutions per minute. When you have air and water forced through my handpiece at that rate of speed, I am not just creating salivary aerosol, I am creating a windstorm of bacteria and virus around the room”, said Dr. Spaniel.

Dr. Spaniel came up with the concept of isolation, ventilation and filtration. They wanted to find something that could create “Dental Clean Rooms™” (a first of its kind in the nation).

Her husband Adam knew adding HEPA filtration to the building’s HVAC system would be a good countermeasure to prevent the spread of airborne contaminants, but they needed something more. HEPA filters in HVAC systems remove particles from ambient air, where they could already have come in contact with people. To improve safety, Summerwood Dental needed a tool that removed aerosols from the source, or the area where the dentist and patient were, not the room as a whole. Adam also felt more comfortable exhausting the removed aerosol out of the building rather than recirculating the air.

Ceiling-mounted FX2 extraction arm at Summerwood Family Dental.

A Permanent, Engineered Solution for Aerosol Extraction

Nederman’s FX2 extraction arms are a proven solution to remove harmful contaminants and particles from the air. They’re used not only in dental settings, but also on construction worksites, in laboratories, and in electronics manufacturing plants.

The extraction arm is designed to remove contaminants by capturing air at the source, taking away contaminants like fumes, dust, and aerosols before they can reach the air around a person and get inhaled. Dr. Spaniel wanted a hood to position over or in front of her patient to capture aerosols that she created and any remainder would be pushed to the floor and removed by the HEPA filtration from the building. Adam was familiar with Nederman extraction arms from his 30 years of cleanroom application experience as a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) engineer. He suggested them as a potential solution to removal aerosols from the air. Dr. Spaniel quickly found a Nederman dealer in her area and placed the order for the aerosol control solution.

FX2 arms are adjustable, so they fit in the area where dentists work without taking up much space – something that can’t be said for portable HEPA filters. Dr. Spaniel found that the ceiling-mounted FX2 arms were less cumbersome than a unit sitting on the floor. If they used a floor unit, it would be in the way of her assistant, the patient, the dental chair and the doctor.

FX 2 extraction arms can also be easily maneuvered into place by the user, with a conical design at the front meant to capture air. The arm’s two end joints turn 360 degrees, making it easy to position the arm as close as possible to the patient without disrupting procedures.

The FX2 extraction arms were also designed to run quietly, something that’s especially important in a consumer-focused industry. After implementing the solution at Summerwood Dental, Dr. Spaniel said they received “no complaints” about the noise when it was in use and that the product “has been great and the patients feel very safe in the office.”

The arm’s modern-looking design fits in well in a dentist’s office, and one of the reasons it was chosen for Summerwood was aesthetics. The hood of the device, Adam said, looks like it belonged in a medical environment, which may put patients more at ease.

Nederman FX2 Aerosol Extraction System.

Using Extraction Arms to Improve Staff & Patient Experience

Dr. Spaniel says their staff is excited about the new solution, because they believe it will make their workplace safer. Patients of Summerwood Dental have also given favorable reviews to the business on LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is going crazy,” Adam said.

Not only does Summerwood Dental hope their FX2 extraction arm will help protect against COVID-19, they also want to use it to help prevent other contagious diseases like the flu. Even in past work years, Dr. Spaniel comes down with a cold or the flu six to seven times a year due to the nature of her work. The FX2 extraction arm is helping them create a cleaner, more sanitary environment across the board.

Key Factors in Controlling Aerosols in a Dental Setting

Dental practitioners are always looking for ways to operate safely and more effectively. Controlling aerosols is a major element of that, especially since dentists frequently use aerosol-generating tools and procedures to care for their patients.

Aerosol extraction is a key element in reducing the spread of infection diseases, reducing risk for both staff and patients. However, to produce the best results aerosol extraction needs to be done in specific ways. It must be done at the source, before the aerosols have had a chance to come into contact with people. Ambient air filtering through an HVAC system, while helpful, often leaves particles in the air long enough to expose others in the room. It is safer to implement an aerosol extraction solution that removes particles from the building entirely, instead of recirculating the air in the building.

FX2 extraction arms provide those benefits to dentists and other healthcare or industrial settings. The health and sanitation benefit is widespread, helping prevent the transmission of infectious diseases through aerosols.

Are you looking for an aerosol control solution? Contact a clean air expert in your area to get started!


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