Dental professionals are becoming exceptionally aware of the numerous occupational hazards associated with their profession. Dentists protect their skin with jackets, aprons, and gloves. Protective eyewear and face shields are a must. Conclusive evidence states the importance of protecting the back with loupes and similar products.
There is one question that must be asked, though; that is, what measures do you take to protect your hearing?
Noises Are Everywhere
The dental office is a noisy place. People that work in the dental field are consistently subjected to basic intermittent noises as well as continual noises.
Sounds come from the ultrasonic scalers, mixing units, instrument cleaners, vacuums, standard office equipment, climate control units, and yes, dental handpieces. The hard surfaces throughout the dentist office have actually been found to radiate sound. Ultimately, dental professionals are immersed in an environment that is consistently radiating noises that could detrimentally impact hearing.
As if the vibrations from those dental handpieces and the consistent suction noises weren’t enough to cause you discomfort, now, you must worry about hearing loss. While losing one’s hearing is quite common as we age, certain occupational hazards (such as improperly maintained dental handpieces) could cause us to lose our hearing before our “time”.
According to statistics, approximately one person out of every ten that is at least 20 years of age to the age of 69 suffer from some degree of hearing loss as a result of their occupation. Naturally, sounds that are distorted or muffled are a sure indicator of a problem. However, there are several other indicators of a problem. The following outlines a few of these issues:
- Complications hearing on the phone
- Straining to understand a conversation
- Problems identifying background noises
- Requesting others to repeat themselves
- Accusing others of mumbling
- Turning up the volume on devices
- Misunderstanding what is said
Protecting Your Ears
As a dental professional, there are several steps that may be taken to protect your ears. First, consider using earplugs to alleviate the pressure of the sounds around you. Secondly, choose dental equipment that is low-volume or that operates “quietly”. Finally, you should make certain that all of the equipment in your practice – especially dental handpieces – are functioning properly by having regular maintenance performed on those devices.