Dentistry may not be typically considered a high-risk profession for asbestos exposure, but many dentists have been exposed. This exposure may have occurred through their use of dental lining tape, one of the many products that used to be made with asbestos.
Asbestos refers to a group of fibrous minerals with fire-resistant and insulative properties. These properties made asbestos a desirable additive in numerous commercial products. Unfortunately, it is also toxic.
Inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses to develop. Asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma are some diseases that are commonly associated with asbestos exposure.
Factors that may affect a dentist’s risk of illness
Between the 1930s and the 1970s, dental lining tape was made with asbestos. Dentists used this tape when casting crowns, bridges and other dental prosthetic devices out of metal using the lost wax method.
As the tape was used, it released asbestos dust. The exposure was typically infrequent and only for brief periods at a time. However, dentists usually perform this kind of work in small rooms with poor ventilation. Also, many dentists did not know they needed to take safety precautions to prevent exposure.
The asbestos-containing tape may not be common in the dentistry industry today. However, the amount of damage it caused is still being determined. It can take decades for the symptoms of an asbestos-related disease to develop. Someone’s work in the industry decades ago could be the cause of their illness today.
However, professionals weren’t the only ones to use the asbestos-containing tape. Students earning degrees in the dentistry field could have also been exposed during their classes.
It is important to note that not everyone who encounters asbestos develops an asbestos-related disease. However, inhaling or ingesting any amount of asbestos could be hazardous. That is why anyone who could have been exposed may benefit from discussing their health concerns with a physician.