Occupational Hazards in Dentistry

Closeup of dentist hand taking mirror from on of dental tools.Are you interested in dentistry? Perhaps you are considering joining the field or are already working in dentistry now. Whether you are a student in Harrisburg PA, a dental assistant in Denver CO or a family dentist in Cary NC, it behooves you to know the hazards of this occupation. Dentistry can be a wonderful profession in which you keep others healthy and give them the confidence to smile. However, it is not without its risks. We have discussed, previously, ways to stay safe at the dentist’s office, but it certainly helps to understand why, so that you may be more conscious of the precautions.

When caring for someone’s oral health, you are inherently at greater risk for contracting an infection. These infections include potentially fatal diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Viral Hepatitis (Hepatitis C). Obviously, then, dentists wear gloves to minimize exchange of germs with their patients. It is important, when making contact with someone’s mouth, to see that the gloves have no holes or tears. You may also wish to be extra careful if the patient has any bleeding or cuts in his or her mouth.

As our friends the dentists at Alliance Dentistry in Cary NC can tell you, percutaneous (or mucous membrane) exposure is another danger. Percutaneous exposure happens when a healthcare worker is exposed to a needle that has been injected into another person. When handling injections, as in anesthesia administration, a dental worker will want to be careful not to let that needle touch anyone else. Even if the patient only has an apparent oral health issue, that oral health issue could be indicative of a larger underlying health concern.

Those in the dental field are also particularly exposed to respiratory infections. If a patient has gum disease, bacteria surrounding the gums may travel through the airways and infect the lungs, leading to serious illnesses such as pneumonia. This is one of the many reasons that dentists and dental hygienists are required to wear masks while examining patients. Without such protective gear, a dentist or dental hygienist could easily inhale the infectious bacteria and fall ill.

Other health concerns in the dental field may not be infection related, but related to the work environment and materials. They include:

  • Exposure to sharp objects,
  • Radiation,
  • Noise
  • Latex allergies

These are just a few of the environmental risks. There are many other risks involved in dentistry, but thanks to strict health regulations set forth by the American Dental Association, most dentists and dental workers are never harmed by these risk factors. Hence, it is important to follow these guidelines and remain safe at work like the dental hygienists in Denver CO or the family dentists in Morrisville NC.