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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 207-208

Noise pollution in dental office: Are we sheltered?

1 Department of Prosthodontics and Oral Implantology, Shree Bankey Bihari Dental College and Research Centre, Ghaziabad, India
2 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, IDST Dental College, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India
3 Department of Prosthodontics and Oral Implantology, ITS Dental College, Ghaziabad, India
4 Department of Oral Pathology, Swami Devi Dyal Hospital and Dental College, Panchkula, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication26-Dec-2012

Correspondence Address:
Prince Kumar
Department of Prosthodontics and Oral Implantology, Shree Bankey Bihari Dental College and Research Centre, N.H. 24, Masuri, Ghaziabad
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-344X.105091

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How to cite this article:
Kumar P, Goel R, Kumar A, Singh HP. Noise pollution in dental office: Are we sheltered?. Int J Health Allied Sci 2012;1:207-8

How to cite this URL:
Kumar P, Goel R, Kumar A, Singh HP. Noise pollution in dental office: Are we sheltered?. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2012 [cited 2020 Apr 7];1:207-8. Available from: http://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2012/1/3/207/105091


As a dental professional, a person may come across occupational hazards everyday especially noise pollution induced hearing loss. Though this may not be symptomatic but the first complication and the motive for seeking a hearing assessment may be tinnitus. The hearing threshold might be at higher risk due to the noises coming across in the dental office which can make dental professional vulnerable to the permanent hearing loss. [1] The techno-mechanically equipped dental clinic environment poses dental professionals to noises associated with hand pieces, ultrasonic scalars, cleaners as well as other dental equipment like turbine dental drill, lab electromotor hand pieces, stone mixers and lab machines. A comprehensive literature search showed that most of the studies regarding this occupational hazard were centered to examine whether the noise found in a dental practice exceeds the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) standards and regulations. [2]

OSHA regulations for industry limit an individual's exposure to steady state noise levels of 90 dB in an eight-hour time period.The majority of dental equipment can produce sounds up to 92 dB (91 dB for ultrasonic cleaners, 86 dB for ultrasonic scalars, 84 dB for stone mixers and 74 dB for low-speed handpieces). [3],[4] Moreover, older and rusted equipment can further amplify noise pollution up to 100 dB. Lehto et al. reported that "some authors have found losses of hearing in dentists possibly attributable to the drill noise, while others have not." [4]

The noise levels in the dental clinics are usually considered to be below the limit of risk of hearing loss. However, dental technicians and other personnel who spend many hours in noisy dental laboratories may be at higher risk. These principally include auditory effects (auditory fatigue, temporary and permanent deafness) and non-auditory effects (annoyance, decreased efficiency, interference with speech and physiologic damage like increased heart rate and headache). [5] Lehto et al. stated that some individuals may be more susceptible to hearing loss, and even with a "low-risk dental drill noise," a gradual loss of hearing may occur. [6] The National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that the time spent exposed to noise should be reduced by half as the sound level doubles. [7] Hand pieces should be well lubricated and optimally maintained to diminish the level of noise production. Sound-dampening materials should to be used for finishing the walls and ceilings of dental offices. [8] whereas for the personal protection a)The dentist should maintain a proper distance of 14 inches, i.e., about 35 cm from eyes to the patient's mouth, and b) Must avoid simultaneous use of several turbines. [4] For emerging dental professionals (students, young doctors), hearing tests must also be taken which would function as a reference point for the subsequent tests taken during the career, for assessing possible later changes in the ear. [9] Other potential recommendations to minimize such risk among dental professionals may be the use of hearing protection device (e.g., musician's earplugs), and frequent changing the environment to trim down the deleterious effects of noise. Eventually it would be worth mentioning that air conditioners and office music can be operated too loud to camouflage loud noise. [10]

  References Top

1.Clark WW, Bohne BA. Effects of noise on hearing. JAMA 1999;281:1658-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Fabry DA. Hearing loss as occupational hazard. Northwest Dent 1995;74:29-32.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Garner GG, Federman J, Johnson A. Noise induced hearing loss in the dental environment: An audiologist's perspective. J Ga Dent Assoc 2002;6417-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Kilpatrick HC. Decibel ratings of dental office sounds. J Prosthet Dent 1981;45:175-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Setcos JC, Mahyuddin A. Noise levels encountered in dental clinical and laboratory practice. Int J Prosthodont 1998;11:150-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Lehto TU, Laurikainen ET, Aitasalo KJ, Pietilä TJ, Helenius HY, Johansson R. Hearing of dentists in the long run: A 15-year follow-up study. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol1989;17:207-11.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Feuerstein JF. Occupational Hearing Conservation. Handbook of Clinical Audiology. 5 th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2002, p. 571.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Wagner H. How healthy are today's dentists? J Am Dent Assoc1985;110:17-24.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Council on Dental Materials and Devices. Noise control in the dental operatory. J Am Dent Assoc1974;89:1384-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Hyson JM Jr. The air turbine and hearing loss. Are dentists at risk? J Am Dent Assoc 2002;133:1639-42.  Back to cited text no. 10


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