Detection of dental fomites using topical fluorescein

Richard Newsom, Chris Pattison, Adam Amara, Chris Louca

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Background - Thorough disinfection of dental facilities is of paramount importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients, clinicians, students and nurses can all be infected by aerosols and dental droplets bearing COVID-19. However, droplets are transparent and often microscopic, so are difficult to detect in clinical practice.

Methods - To better understand the spread of dental droplets, we stained the dental irrigant with fluorescein and performed a series of procedures on a dental manikin. We then viewed droplets and fomite spread around the dental chair, with and without an ultraviolet (UV) light.

- Observations without the UV light showed minimal or no fluid spread. However, using UV light, we detected fluorescein on the dentist, chairs and the handpiece, as well as splatter on the floor and on the instrument tray. This was of educational value to the staff, who were reminded how far droplets had spread.

Conclusion - Fluorescein facilitates the detection of droplet spread and helps clinical staff to see high-risk areas that require in-depth cleaning. As clinical grade fluorescein is cheap and widely available, this technique may be useful for dental practices to train staff in the thorough decontamination of the clinical environment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Early online date5 Jul 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 5 Jul 2022


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