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Supporting Your Practice

Call for Safety: Patient Fire During Dental Care


Dr. Robert Bosack, practising oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Chicago and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry, presents an interesting case that was recently published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (October 2016).


Fire risk is present whenever there is a convergence of fuel, oxidizer, and an ignition source, which is called the fire triangle. A heightened awareness of fire risk is necessary whenever a fire triangle is present. The authors provide a sentinel event case report of fire in a dental office.

A 72-year-old woman received second-degree facial burns from a fire that ignited near the nasal hood supplying a nitrous oxide–oxygen mixture. The presumed ignition source was heat generated during the preparation of a titanium post with a high-speed, irrigated carbide bur. The patient was transferred to the local emergency department and subsequently discharged after possible pulmonary complications were ruled out. The patient was then transferred to a regional burn unit and was discharged home with second-degree burns.

When the source of a fuel cannot be removed from the immediate area, soaked with water, or covered with a water-soluble jelly, the dentist should stop the open flow of oxygen or nitrous oxide–oxygen mixtures to the patient for 1 minute before the use of a potential ignition source, and intraoral suction should be used to clear the ambient atmosphere of oxidizer-enriched exhaled gas.




  1. Robert Kinniburgh November 10, 2016

    I did the Massive Open Online Course in Implant Dentistry and found it to be well worth the $64.00 fee and the investment in time. Practitioners of many levels of experience, I believe, will find this course of value. Some will find it rather elementary, but it is a good review of the science of dental implantology. From diagnosis, case planning, the histology of healing, the placement of the implants, instrument selection, sterile technique, graft and membrane placement, as well as the selection of the appropriate implants, options for restorations, and the technology of the fabrication and placement of the restorations. This is by no means an all-inclusive course, but it certainly covers enough material to give one an overall understanding of dental implantology.

    This course is a wonderful introduction for a dentist contemplating offering dental implants and their restoration. Even if you are not planning on offering this service it will give the dentist a wonderful learning opportunity so that they can educate patients who are contemplating this treatment.

    I think this is a valuable resource for dentists of varied experience levels in dental implantology as well as excellent training material for team members.

    I would highly recommend this course.

    1. JCDA Oasis November 10, 2016

      Dr. Kinniburgh,

      Many thanks for leaving your valuable comment.

      CDA Oasis Team

  2. Anonymous November 13, 2016


    So was the vaseline deemed flammable? That was unclear.


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