Is noise-induced hearing loss a critical issue for Canadian dentists?
I write having just participated in a meeting of the CDA Committee on Clinical & Scientific Affairs where one of the agenda items related to the occupational health and safety of dentists. Because of a letter addressed to the committee, the conversation turned to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) among dentists. The committee members soon reached a consensus that they weren’t sure how big an issue this potential occupational hazard is for Canadian dentists today.
I did a quick Google search on the topic and I found some helpful background information on NIHL on the website of the US-based National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders. One fact that resonated with me was that NIHL can arise from sustained exposure to noise over 85 decibels (equivalent to the sound of heavy traffic), which can be exceeded by some equipment in dental offices.
A Medline search then led me to a recently published journal article titled Occupational safety threats among dental personnel and related risk factors, which concludes that NIHL is a potentially serious occupational health threat for dentists. The committee members also had access to an article titled Noise Induced Hearing Loss in Dental Offices, written by an audiologist, which highlights the risks and makes some recommendations for the prevention of NIHL.
What are your own experiences with and thoughts about occupational hearing loss among dentists? Have you, or any dental colleagues experienced hearing problems that seem to be worse than or different from other non-dental family members or friends? Do you and other dentists you know take any particular precautions to prevent NIHL? I would love to hear from you……