Cavitation in a periodontal pocket by an ultrasonic dental scaler: A numerical investigation

You Yu*, Mehdi Mahmud, Nina Vyas, Warren R Smith, Qianxi Wang*, A Damien Walmsley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Periodontal pockets are spaces or holes surrounded by teeth under the gum line. These pockets can become filled with infection-causing bacteria resulting in tissue, bone, and tooth loss. Cavitation produced by the oscillating tip of dental ultrasonic scalers plays a significant role in routine periodontal therapy to clean these areas. Numerical studies were conducted for a scaler vibrating in a periodontal pocket which was simplified to a hole, using ABAQUS based on the finite element method. The simulations consider the three-dimensional, nonlinear, and transient interaction between the vibration and deformation of the scaler tip, the water flow around the scaler and the cavitation formation. The numerical model was validated by comparing results with experimental data for a scaler vibrating in an unbounded liquid, the displacement at the free end of the scaler and the cavitation pattern near the scaler tip displaying excellent agreement. A parametric study for a scaler vibrating in a hole has been carried out in terms of the volume of the hole, the taper ratio (the radius ratio between the circular opening and bottom of the hole), and the immersion depth of the scaler tip in the hole. The amount of cavitation generated is evaluated by the cavitation density (or the void fraction) which is the ratio of the volume of the cavitation occupied in the hole to the total volume of the hole. Numerical results indicate that the cavitation density in the hole increases with the decreasing hole volume and the increasing taper ratio. It is inferred that cleaning effects could be increased if some modifications to the scaler design could be made to increase the blocking effect of the hole during the cleaning process. Cavitation is observed in the hole even if the scaler is placed above the hole and increases with the immersion depth.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106178
JournalUltrasonics Sonochemistry
Early online date29 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


  • Cavitation
  • Dental cleaning
  • Dental ultrasonic scalers
  • Finite element method


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