Thermal imaging of ultrasonic scaler tips during tooth instrumentation

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24 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: During ultrasonic scaling procedures, contact of the scaler tip with the tooth surface will produce frictional heating. The aim of this study was to assess this heat generation using an Agema 900 thermal imaging system. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Both the Cavitron sustained performance system (SPS) with TFI-3 tip and the Mini Piezon with P-tip were tested. Handpieces were fixed with their sides facing the thermal camera and thermal image sequences or "movies" created. Measurements were performed with tips under loads of 25, 50 and 100 g, at water flow rates of 10, 20 and 40 ml/min and low, medium and high generator power settings. A measurement point was superimposed on the resulting thermal images at the tip/tooth contact site and the temperature variation with time recorded. RESULTS: All combinations of instrumentation produced an increase in temperature. An increase in temperature was generally observed with increasing load (for given power/water), power setting (for given load/water) and a decrease in water flow rate (for given load/power). CONCLUSION: Heat generation is minimised by using low/medium power settings and light contact. Care must be taken to ensure adequate water is present at the site of instrumentation to prevent patient discomfort due to excessive heating.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-375
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Periodontology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • periodontology
  • thermal imaging
  • heating
  • ultrasonics
  • thermal tooth damage


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