Monday, 24 September, 2018


CDC isn't sure why dentists are dying from a specific lung disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are trying to figure out what killed seven from nine dental workers who were being analysed as part of a medical cluster at a Virginia hospital CDC isn't sure why dentists are dying from a specific lung disease
Patty Aguilar | 12 March, 2018, 11:52

A progressive and often fatal lung disease killed dentists at a much faster rate than that of the general population at a Virginia hospital over the past two decades, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials are trying to figure out why dentists are dying after discovering a unusual pattern in cases of a lung disease.

The CDC's study of more than 900 patients over 20 years has found cases of IPF in nine male patients, including eight dentists and one dental technician, seven of whom had already died. Although the dentists only represented 1 percent of the number with the disease, only 0.038 percent of people in the US are dentists.

According to the CDC, nine dentists or dental workers have so far been diagnosed with the disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, all of whom were treated at the same specialty clinic in Virginia. Younger dentists are taught differently than in the past, so they know to delegate certain work or procedures to laboratories that meet more safe and stringent ventilation requirements, he said. During these tasks, a dental worker would have been exposed to silica and other compounds with known or potential respiratory toxicity. Dental personnel are exposed to infectious agents, chemicals, airborne particulates, ionizing radiation and other potentially hazardous materials.

Dentists experience inhalation exposures that can elevate their risk toward some respiratory diseases related to occupation.

The scarring gets worse over time and the patient finds it hard to take deep breaths and the lungs can not take in ample oxygen. National Institutes of Health explain. That scarring gets worse as time goes on, and eventually the lungs can't take in enough oxygen.

When doctors can not find a cause for the scarring condition, it is known as being idiopathic.

He said: 'Dentists and other dental personnel have unique exposures at work, ' Nett said. But the CDC isn't really sure what's causing them to get the disease.

"Although the etiology of IPF is unknown, exposures that have been suggested as contributing factors include viral infections, cigarette smoking, and occupations where exposure to dust, wood dust, and metal dust are common", the CDC said. The chief policy officer of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry says the report is "not surprising", especially because the IPF patients were older and may not have been using modern practices and protections.

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