Is Your Profession Putting You At A Risk For Early Death? Idiopathic Pulomonary Fibrosis!

By Dr. Shailly Luthra

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According to as a latest study in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control(CDC) the dental professionals were about 23 times more at risk to have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) than the rest of the population.

IPF results in  scarring of the lungs. It can be slowed but not reversed ;and nothing can remove the scar tissue. Over time, the lungs due to their decreased capacity ;have difficulty getting oxygen to vital organs like the heart and brain.

The median survival age of IPF after diagnosis is three to five years. But first, patients experience shortness of breath, a dry, chronic cough, weight loss, joint and muscle pain and clubbed fingers or toes.

Earlier patients suffering from IPF were workers exposed to dust from wood and metal, but the increasing numbers of dental professionals being diagnosed with this disease has set the alarm bells ringing.

So what is causing this phenomenon to occur in the dental professionals life? Investigations done to answer this query have lead to the most shocking discovery…..Well, it’s our workplace which is most likely to kill us!!!

Dentists and other support staff  who work in the dental clinicss are exposed to a specific set of hazards, particularly silica, polyvinyl siloxane, alginate and other toxic substances that can be inhaled when they’re polishing dental appliances or preparing amalgams.

Older dentists are far worse and more at risk , both because of increased opportunities for exposure and because they may have practiced at a time when safety standards weren’t as stringent.

So what is the way out because more research needs to be done to solve the complete puzzle.

IPF may not have a cure, but there are small protective measures which can go a long way: namely

  • Having proper light and ventilation in our clinics and operatory’s,
  • Wearing a proper multi-layered face mask,
  • Proper handling and disposal of all dental materials and
  • If possible keeping air purifiers in our clinics.

Hence keeping our health and well-being in mind we should all resolve to make sure we keep all the above points in mind when we plan our dental set-up or should need to modify our existing set-ups.


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