Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Multitudes of pathogenic and infectious microbes are known to spread via contaminated aerosols. Dental personnel have an increased incidence of respiratory infections. Ultrasonic scaling procedures are reported to produce the largest amounts of contaminated aerosols of any dental procedure. The goal of the current study was to see if dental hygienists are at an increased risk of respiratory infections during the performance of their job and to see if certain dental procedures had a significant effect on this risk. This study was conducted at the Dental Hygiene Clinic of the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry in New Orleans, LA. An air monitor collected air composition data during various dental hygiene procedures, and a survey was given to dental hygiene students. The current study found significant increases in particle counts, aerosols and particulates, during ultrasonic scaling procedures. This significant increase in particle counts for a range of particles, 0.5-5.0 micron in diameter, was shown at the onset (p=0.0002) as well as throughout ultrasonic scaling procedures (p=0.0063). Aerosols of the 0.5-1.0 micron size range produced by dental procedures presents an important transportation mechanism since pathogenic bacteria and viruses can easily be carried by these size particles. Therefore, these results clarify the potential for significant risk of respiratory infection in dental hygienists. Recommendations are provided to help reduce this increased risk of aerosol mediated pathogen exposure during dental procedures. Survey analysis determined that receiving a flu shot the previous year had a significant effect on the likelihood of experiencing respiratory symptoms.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Wilson, Vincent L.