Cavitation occurrence around ultrasonic dental scalers

Bernhard Felver, David C King, Simon C Lea, Gareth J Price, A Damien Walmsley

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Ultrasonic scalers are used in dentistry to remove calculus and other contaminants from teeth. One mechanism which may assist in the cleaning is cavitation generated in cooling water around the scaler. The vibratory motion of three designs of scaler tip in a water bath has been characterised by laser vibrometry, and compared with the spatial distribution of cavitation around the scaler tips observed using sonochemiluminescence from a luminol solution. The type of cavitation was confirmed by acoustic emission analysed by a 'Cavimeter' supplied by NPL. A node/antinode vibration pattern was observed, with the maximum displacement of each type of tip occurring at the free end. High levels of cavitation activity occurred in areas surrounding the vibration antinodes, although minimal levels were observed at the free end of the tip. There was also good correlation between vibration amplitude and sonochemiluminescence at other points along the scaler tip. 'Cavimeter' analysis correlated well with luminol observations, suggesting the presence of primarily transient cavitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-697
Number of pages6
JournalUltrasonics Sonochemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009


  • Scanning
  • Cavitation
  • Ultrasonics
  • Cooling water
  • Lasers
  • Dentistry
  • Size distribution


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