by Dr. Joseph Mercola, Mercola.com
Exposure to hazardous substances while on the job is a reality for many occupations, from farmers and construction workers to firefighters — and dentists. In the latter case, the use of toxic substances like mercury for amalgam fillings is not only dangerous for patients but also for those working with the material in the office.
In fact, a cluster of eight dentists and one dental technician from Virginia were diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a chronic and progressive lung disease with no known cure, and sought treatment at the same specialty clinic in the state from 2000 to 2015.
One of the dentists contacted the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in April 2016, concerned that a number of dentists were all being treated for the same relatively rare disease. While IPF has been associated with certain occupations in the past, especially exposure to certain dusty environments like those that may occur during agricultural work, textile manufacturing or exposure to wood dust, dentistry was an entirely new connection.
In June 2017, the CDC reviewed medical records from 894 patients diagnosed with IPF and treated at the above-mentioned specialty clinic from September 1996 to June 2017, looking for those with an occupation of dentist, dental hygienist or dental technician. Nine of the patients, or 1 percent, were dental personnel. Considering the small number of dentists in the US relative to the overall population (0.038 percent in 2016), the fact that they represented nearly 1 percent of patients being treated for IPF at one clinic was noteworthy.
© 2018 Dr. Joseph Mercola