Polymers Prevent Hazardous Mist During Dentist Visit

The viscoelastic properties of food-grade polymers like polyacrylic acid, which they used as a small admixture to water in dental settings, are no match for the forces of a vibrating tool or dentist’s drill, according to a paper published this week in Physics of Fluids by AIP Publishing by Alexander Yarin and his colleagues. Their findings surprised everyone. Polymers, such as coil-stretch transitions, fulfilled the desired goal admirably by totally eliminating aerosolization with a tiny amount of polymer admixture. They experimented with two polymers that had been authorized by the FDA. Since it has a lower shear viscosity than xanthan gum and a higher elongational viscosity (high elastic stresses in stretching), polyacrylic acid performed better than xanthan gum.

In Yarin’s lab, the very first experiment confirmed the idea without a shadow of a doubt. “In spite of the high inertial forces, these materials were able to totally prevent dental instruments from releasing aerosols, which was astounding. Yet tiny polymer additions produced greater elastic forces.” The dental instrument aerosolizes pockets of water that are given to teeth and gums, as shown in their research. When you go to the dentist, you may see a mist pouring from the drill. This is caused by water being exposed to fast vibration from the tool or the centrifugal force of the drill, which breaks the water down into small droplets and pushes them forward. When used to irrigate, the polymer admixture reduces bursts by stretching polymer macromolecules like rubber bands. A dental drill or vibrating tool tip dipped in polymer solution forms snakelike strands that are dragged back toward the tool tip, changing the normal dynamics observed with pure water in dentistry. “The droplet tail is extended as droplets attempt to separate from a liquid body. That’s when polymer macromolecules’ coil-stretch transitions’ substantial elastic pressures come into play “Yarin made the statement. “They inhibit aerosolization by suppressing tail extension and pulling the droplet back.”

Reference : American Institute of Physics. (2020, August 25). Polymers prevent potentially hazardous mist during dentist visit: During a pandemic, the problem of aerosolized saliva droplets at a dentist’s office is acute. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 5, 2021 from

Categories: Dental