Dental Education Australia

Occupational Health Hazards in Dentistry

When it comes to discussions on health, a hefty percentage of the focus is directed towards the physical condition. The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition holds true especially for health professionals – in order to look after the well-being of others, it only makes sense that their own health must first and foremost be of optimal level.

An assessment of one‟s daily routine is in order to determine the factors that currently affect the overall well-being of persons, as well as the impact it will have on their health in the long run. Among these professions that demand further analysis on health impact is dentistry.

Surprisingly, dentistry is considered to be one of the more physically taxing concentrations in the medical industry, albeit the seemingly low-risk working environment characterized by the profession. While it is true that dentistry is among the medical professions that require the least amount of muscular activity, as it only implores an isolated yet sustained concentration of the eyes and hand, it does not hold true that the physical risks on the body are at a proportional minimum. Dentists work an average of 35-40 hours per week, which makes the body susceptible to musculoskeletal pains such as myalgia, or muscle pain, as well as focal peripheral neuropathy cases such as the carpal tunnel syndrome,

which affects the wrists, among other cases. The need to discern the importance of occupational health awareness in the dental industry should be a constant effort, since existing studies are still quite young, partly speculative and staggered according to data collected in varying test environments. This effort is otherwise known as health promotion.

Furthermore, the World Health Organization defines health promotion as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. It moves beyond a focus on individual behaviour towards a wide range of social and environmental interventions.” This e-book aims to educate dental professionals by enumerating and discussing the occupational hazards in dentistry, as well as to suggest solutions that can be implemented in daily dental practice to improve their general occupational health status.

The discussion will touch on the prevalence of occupational health hazards, percutaneous exposure incidents, infectious diseases, musculoskeletal pain, radiation, dental biomaterials, dermatitis and respiratory hypersensitivity, eye and ear injuries, and psychological and social problems. This e-book will hopefully serve as a vessel of health promotion to empower dental professionals about the occupational hazards of dentistry and to promote awareness, critical thinking and self-research, eventually developing their own clinical protocols for maintaining optimal overall health for themselves, as well as for their dental staff.

For more information please visit: Dentist’s education.