Introduction Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through aerosol has been suggested, particularly in the presence of highly concentrated aerosols in enclosed environments. It is accepted that aerosols are produced during a range of dental procedures, posing potential risks to both dental practitioners and patients. There has been little agreement concerning aerosol transmission associated with orthodontics and associated mitigation. Methods Orthodontic procedures were simulated in a closed side-surgery using a dental manikin on an acrylic model using composite-based adhesive. Adhesive removal representing debonding was undertaken using a 1:1 contra-angle handpiece (W&H Synea Vision WK-56 LT, Bürmoos, Austria) and fast handpiece with variation in air and water flow. The removal of acid etch was also simulated with the use of combined 3-in-1 air-water syringe. An optical particle sizer (OPS 3330, TSI Inc., Minnesota, USA) and a portable scanning mobility particle sizer (NanoScan SMPS Nanoparticle Sizer 3910, TSI Inc., Minnesota, USA) were both used to assess particulate matter ranging in dimension from 0.08 to 10 μm.Results Standard debonding procedure (involving air but no water) was associated with clear increase in the 'very small' and 'small' (0.26-0.9 μm) particles but only for a short period. Debonding procedures without supplementary air coolant appeared to produce similar levels of aerosol to standard debonding. Debonding in association with water tended to produce large increases in aerosol levels, producing particles of all sizes throughout the experiment. The use of water and a fast handpiece led to the most significant increase in particles. Combined use of the 3-in-1 air-water syringe did not result in any detectable increase in the aerosol levels.Conclusions Particulate matter was released during orthodontic debonding, although the concentration and volume was markedly less than that associated with the use of a fast handpiece. No increase in particulates was associated with prolonged use of a 3-in-1 air-water syringe. Particulate levels reduced to baseline levels over a short period (approximately five minutes). Further research within alternative, open environments and without air exchange systems is required.