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Although not always apparent, numerous occupational health hazards are present in dental industry. Along with introduction of new dental materials, it is essential for dental technicians to identify possible hazards and to implement appropriate preventive measures to protect their health.
With over 20,000 licensed dentists in Canada (January 2010, Canadian Dental Association) and approximately 37,600 dental lab technicians in the US (according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics), a large number of dental technicians are exposed to numerous hazards, including solvents, acids, gases and vapours from polymerisation, metal casting, and porcelain baking, and also dust coming from plaster, alloys, ceramics and resins.
In the absence of adequate protective measures, exposure to dust with high silica or quartz concentrations and cobalt–chromium–molybdenum alloys generated by grinding and dispersed in the breathing zone present a risk of developing pneumoconiosis, interstitial inflammation, fibrosis as well as decreased respiratory functions. Polishing compounds, some of which display a strong cytotoxicity, may also lead to undesired reactions.
Exposure to methacrylate monomers may also pose a health hazard, ranging from irritation to skin and eyes and asthma, to headache, pain in the limbs, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue and sleep disturbances. The use of standard equipment, (gloves, face masks, and glasses) does not offer adequate protection against vapours from monomers.
In order to reduce the exposure to contaminants, good ventilation and adequate air filtration are the most important factors to be considered.
Since 1990 Quatro Air Technologies (1-877-978-2876) provided effective solutions to reduce chemical and particle exposure, offering highly efficient portable and integrated dust collectors and air purifiers for the dental industry.