June 25, 2019
by Dental Tribune
Something often overlooked in dentistry is the occupational health risks to practitioners. In a new study, researchers from West Virginia University (WVU) School of Dentistry are collaborating with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to find out how microscopic, airborne particulates and gases might be generated during dental procedures and what measures dentists can take to protect themselves.
After a number of dental professionals were diagnosed with the commonly fatal condition of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at a single Virginia clinic, the researchers became interested in learning more. Not knowing the cause of the disease is part of the reason they want to understand better what dental personnel are exposed to in the work environment, according to Dr. Randall Nett, who leads the Field Studies Branch of the NIOSH Respiratory Health Division and investigated the cluster of cases when they came to light to gather the data needed for the study, the researchers will measure the size and concentration of particulates in real time during common dental procedures at five WVU teaching clinics and 29 private dental clinics that collaborate with the dental school’s Department of Dental Practice and Rural Health. They will analyze a variety of samples: metals, dust, silica, volatile organic compounds and anesthetic gases.
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