Contamination of handpieces during pulpotomy therapy on primary teeth

Judith R. Chin, Amy E. Westerman, Charles J. Palenik, Steven George J. Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this in vivo study was to determine the potential for internal bacterial contamination of low-speed handpiece/contra-angle systems. Methods: Clinical contamination was measured for 24 pulpotomies on primary first or second molar teeth from 20 subjects. The investigators used microbiologic analysis to determine the extent of bacterial contamination from the patient's saliva using enriched trypticase soy agar (ETSA) plates. Analysis for the presence of blood also occurred. Results: Microbial analysis indicated aerobic and anaerobic bacterial contamination at all 3 culturing sites from all 24 handpieces (100% contamination, 95% confidence intervals [CI]=86%-100%). Aerobic and anaerobic bacteria levels (CFU/mL) were not significantly different (P=.43 overall, P>.25 for each of the 3 evaluated sites). The sites also did not have significantly different CFU/mL levels (P=.13 overall, P=.63 for aerobic, P=.14 for anaerobic). The analysis showed no blood contamination at any of the 3 culturing sites for any of the 24 handpieces (0% contamination, 95% CI=0%-14%). Conclusions: The in vivo data suggest that low-speed handpiece/contraangle systems can become bacterially contaminated during the performance of pulpotomies and, unless properly sterilized between patients, there is the potential for pathogenic micro-organisms to enter, adhere, and then emit during use on subsequent patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-75
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric dentistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 31 2009


  • Equipment contamination
  • Handpiece
  • Infection control
  • Pulpotomy
  • Sterilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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  • Cite this

    Chin, J. R., Westerman, A. E., Palenik, C. J., & Eckert, S. G. J. (2009). Contamination of handpieces during pulpotomy therapy on primary teeth. Pediatric dentistry, 31(1), 71-75.