COVID-19: Part 2—Is there something in the air? Aerosols and infection prevention/control in the dental office

This course seeks to review up-to-date infection control recommendations and emerging evidence for ongoing infection control when delivering dental care, particularly in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic.

3 CE Credits

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A peer-reviewed article written by Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, MS


Dental procedures that employ handpieces, lasers, electrosurgery units, ultrasonic scalers, air polishers, prophy angles, hand instruments, and air/water syringes can create bioaerosols and spatter. Ultrasonic scalers and high-speed handpieces produce more airborne contamination than any other instruments in dentistry. Furthermore, the personal protective equipment (PPE) that dental professionals generally use was selected to prevent infections related to blood-borne pathogens. As dental procedures and technologies have evolved, the incidence of aerosol-creating procedures has increased. Inhalation of airborne particles and aerosols produced during dental procedures may cause adverse respiratory health effects and bidirectional disease transmission. While transmission-based precautions may minimize risk to dental healthcare providers, many of these precautions may not be routinely practiced, and current scientific evidence and recommendations to dental healthcare providers are rapidly evolving. During the initial pandemic stage, limiting practice to essential services and practicing high-level infection control is critical, but as this pandemic evolves, we are likely to reach a state wherein endemic conditions for SARS-CoV-2 continue to exist, and our infection control may have to evolve to reflect such changes. Going forward, dental healthcare providers should be aware of invisible risks within their operatories and stay abreast of evolving infection prevention protocols before, during, and after patient care. This course seeks to review up-to-date infection control recommendations and emerging evidence for ongoing infection control when delivering dental care, particularly in relation to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Educational objectives

Upon completion of this course, the dental professional should be able to:

  • Explain the risk factors and basic properties of aerosols generated during routine dental procedures
  • Describe what types of dental procedures result in significant dental aerosol production
  • Understand the types of pathogens and resultant illnesses associated with such aerosols
  • Differentiate between standard and transmission-based precautions and their utility in the dental office for safe delivery of care
  • List infection control and aerosol mitigation techniques that may reduce the risk of cross-contamination to patients and providers

Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, MS, is a professor and director of advanced education in periodontology in the Department of Periodontology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Dentistry. Dr. Geisinger received her BS in biology from Duke University, her DDS from Columbia University School of Dental Medicine, and her MS and Certificate in Periodontology and Implantology from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Dr. Geisinger is a diplomate in the American Board of Periodontology. She has served as the president of the American Academy of Periodontology Foundation and on multiple national and regional organized dentistry committees. She currently serves as chair of the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs and as a member of the AAP’s Board of Trustees. She has authored over 40 peer-reviewed publications and her research interests include periodontal and systemic disease interaction, implant dentistry in the periodontally compromised dentition, and novel treatment strategies for oral soft- and hard-tissue growth. She lectures nationally and internationally on topics in periodontology and oral health care.

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Quick Access Code: 20001

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Course Includes

  • 13 Lessons
  • 1 Test
  • Course Certificate
  • CE credit(s): 3

    Course Type: Written

    Published Date: OCTOBER 2020

    This continuing education (CE) activity was developed by Endeavor Business Media with no commercial support.

    This course was written for dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants, from novice to skilled.

    Educational methods: This course is a self-instructional journal and web activity.

    Provider disclosure: Endeavor Business Media neither has a leadership position nor a commercial interest in any products or services discussed or shared in this educational activity. No manufacturer or third party had any input in the development of the course content.

    Requirements for successful completion: To obtain 3 CE credits for this educational activity, you must pay the required fee, review the material, complete the course evaluation, and obtain an exam score of 70% or higher.

    CE planner disclosure: Laura Winfield, Endeavor Business Media dental group CE coordinator, neither has a leadership nor commercial interest with the products or services discussed in this educational activity. Ms. Winfield can be reached at

    Educational disclaimer: Completing a single continuing education course does not provide enough information to result in the participant being an expert in the field related to the course topic. It is a combination of many educational courses and clinical experience that allows the participant to develop skills and expertise.

    Image authenticity statement: The images in this educational activity have not been altered.

    Scientific integrity statement: Information shared in this CE course is developed from clinical research and represents the most current information available from evidence-based dentistry.

    Known benefits and limitations of the data: The information presented in this educational activity is derived from the data and information contained in the reference section.

    Registration: The cost of this CE course is $59.00 for 3 CE credits.

    Cancellation and refund policy: Any participant who is not 100% satisfied with this course can request a full refund by contacting Endeavor Business Media in writing.

    Provider information:

    Dental Board of California: Provider RP5933. Course registration number CA code: 03-5933-20001. Expires SEPTEMBER 2023. “This course meets the Dental Board of California’s requirements for 3 units of continuing education.”


    Endeavor Business Media is a nationally approved PACE program provider for FAGD/MAGD credit.
    Approval does not imply acceptance by any regulatory authority or AGD endorsement.
    11/1/2022 to 10/31/2024.
    Provider ID# 320452
    AGD code: 148


    Endeavor Business Media is designated as an approved Provider by the American Academy of Dental Hygiene, Inc. #AADHPNW (January 1, 2022–December 31, 2024). Approval does not imply acceptance by a state or provincial Board of Dentistry. Licensee should maintain this document in the event of an audit. AADH code:


    Endeavor Business Media is an ADA CERP–recognized provider.

    ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of dental continuing education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry.

    Concerns or complaints about a CE provider may be directed to the provider or to CERP at



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