Evaluating flow-field and expelled droplets in the mockup dental clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic

Xiujie Li, Cheuk Ming Mak, Kuen Wai Ma, Hai Ming Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


In the setting of widespread severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) community transmission, reducing the exposure risk on dental professionals and the next patients is the key to reopening dental services in this pandemic environment. The study is motivated by the lack of understanding of the flow-field characteristics and droplet distribution during aerosol-generating procedures. The particle image velocimetry measurements with high temporal and spatial resolutions were performed under ultrasonic scaling in the mockup experimental dental clinic. Compared with other methods focusing on the settled droplet particles, the study focused on the visualization of suspended droplets. From the results of the velocity vector and trajectory map, the high-level contaminated area will be within 1 m from the oral cavity. The vortex structures were identified by the vorticity index. In the surface near the patient's head, a counterclockwise vortex would carry some droplets and contaminate this region. The small droplets circulated in the turbulence cloud and the droplet nuclei generated by dehydration are the two primary sources of suspended particles, which may cause airborne transmission in the dental clinic. About 65%-74% of the droplets in ultrasonic scaling were in the range of 50-180 μ m. The research will provide references to the development of the precaution measures to reduce the SARS-CoV-2 exposure risk of dental professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number047111
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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