Dental equipment that destroys viruses

03 April 2023

To meet the evolving disinfection and decontamination needs of dental professionals since the pandemic, a team of Lithuanian researchers have developed three innovative new pieces of equipment.

To meet the evolving disinfection and decontamination needs of dental professionals since the pandemic, a team of Lithuanian researchers have developed three innovative new pieces of equipment.

An innovation that focuses on the needs of dentists is the result of the collaboration of scientists from Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuanian University of Health Sciences (LSMU), and Dental Clinic Senamiesčio Stomatologijos Klinika.

Professor Vaidas Gaidelys, the project manager, explained that the idea came from considering the challenges that healthcare professionals have faced since the outbreak of Covid-19. In particular, dental patients cannot wear masks during treatment, and the possibility of contracting the virus for dentists is particularly high due to the constant contact with the patient’s fluids.

Vaidas said, “During the pandemic, patients suffering from toothaches or facing more serious health problems could not get proper help, so we developed equipment that will increase the accessibility of healthcare services. The developed solution is intended specifically to ensure the safety of providing health care services to persons who cannot wear physical shields.”

HINS rays that kill viruses

Although the use of ultraviolet rays for disinfection and protection against viruses is not a new concept in the scientific community, most products on the market use different wavelengths of UV-C radiation sources, which have certain requirements for their effective use that disrupt the healthcare process.

“For example, the quartz lamps that are still used for indoor disinfection complicate the specialist’s work, because during disinfection people have to leave the area. Also, the effectiveness of these lamps in destroying virus cells declines in the wider operating range – there should be a small distance between the germicidal lamp and the area to be disinfected, and the greater the distance, the longer the surface should be irradiated” says Vaidas.

According to market research, equipment that utilises short-wave High-Intensity Narrow-Spectrum (HINS) ultraviolet rays to destroy the viability of various viruses is the first of its kind on the market.

“HINS rays have a high degree of efficiency in destroying SARS-CoV-2 virus cells, but it can also be used to protect against various forms of influenza or other viral cells,” says Vaidas.

In order to meet the needs of various healthcare specialists, three pieces of equipment were created to facilitate the work of dental professionals.

Air purifier

A special air purifier SSK SDE-1, created by a team of researchers from the School of Economics and Business (SEB) and Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (FMNS), can disinfect the air exhaled by a patient. The aerosol disinfection module is placed to not interfere with the healthcare professional’s work, and the air suction pipe is directed at the patient – at a 20-centimeter distance from the person’s face.

“The air then travels through the primary filter to the closed container inside the air purifier, where the virus cells attach it selves to the secondary filter. For a certain time, this filter is illuminated with HINS rays, which destroy the virus cells, thus the virus does not spread,” says Vaidas.

The invention, which utilises ultraviolet waves, releases already clean, disinfected air into the environment, thus reducing the possibility of infection for the persons in the room. The scientist explains that for the efficient use of the equipment, it is important to change the filters in the device regularly, but the primary – no more than once a month, and the secondary no more than once every six months.

Transparent protective shield

In addition to this invention, the team of scientists developed the SSK SDE-2 barrier module, which separates the patient from the specialist. The frame-like transparent barrier limits the visibility only slightly, allowing the specialist successfully provide health care services to the patient while stopping the airborne diseases.

Vaidas explains, “This protective barrier makes it possible to provide, for example, dental hygiene services, plaque, and tartar are cleaned from the surface of the teeth, without fear that the health care specialist will be infected with a virus that the patient may be carrying. After the cleaned particles settle on the barrier separating the patient and the dentist, the barrier is disinfected thanks to the lamps emitting UV radiation integrated into the frame.”

Disinfecting dental water

The third invention is the SSK SDE-3 dental water disinfection module. During the normal provision of dental services, saliva, and other liquids, collected using a saliva ejector, drain into the general sewage system, from which they enter the environment. This invention will disinfect such liquids and ensure the virus cells no longer spread.

“The created module can be integrated into existing dental systems in order to disinfect liquids before they enter the common sewage system: HINS light sources are inserted into the container, where the collected liquids are stored and disinfected within the appropriate time frame,” says Gaidelys.

The strength of the UV rays used in the developed dental equipment is not suitable for disinfecting human skin, as their concentration can cause skin damage. Thus the technology has been adapted for use in a closed container – inside an air purifier, transparent barrier, or a container that stores liquids.

“The widely known PCR molecular method was implemented to determine the effectiveness of the innovation. It was also used during the pandemic to determine whether a person has an infection caused by Covid-19. Also, the products were tested by dentists of various specialities, whose comments and advice were considered when improving this innovation, that the equipment would not overcomplicate the experience of the patient receiving the services or the work of the health care specialist,” says Vaidas.

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