Understanding Asbestos in Dental Health Clinics

A patient lying down in a dental chair

Asbestos’s danger is a legitimate concern in dental clinics as microscopic fibers may be found in treatment rooms. These fibers can enter the lungs of both patients and staff and may cause illnesses.

How do dentists unknowingly expose their patients and themselves to asbestos? What are the risks of asbestos exposure, and what should you do if you get exposed to asbestos? Materials used in dental products and tools can cause asbestos exposure. Dental clinics must be aware of this information to help them learn the best practices to prevent and help keep it from happening.

Once individuals are exposed to asbestos, it can lead to various diseases. One of them is mesothelioma, a rare cancer type that grows in the lining of the internal organs. Learning the different stages of mesothelioma…Click to learn more in a new window… can help treat this condition.

Hazards of Asbestos in Dental Clinics

Asbestos is a common material used in construction. The fibrous minerals in asbestos are fire-resistant and have insulative properties. However, products that contain asbestos may lead to illnesses once exposed.

While dental clinics have a low risk of asbestos exposure, dentists are still one of the professions at risk.

Asbestos-containing products, specifically chrysotile asbestos, are used in certain types of dental tools and products. Some of these include dental tapes and the lining of casting rings, which have several uses, such as a crown, bridges, and dental inlays.

The tape that contains asbestos minerals is not as common in dental clinics today. However, the symptoms and illnesses that link to asbestos exposure may take years to develop.

In surgery, dentists used periodontal dressings powders after the operation to secure the surgical area from harm and infection. The powders were discovered to contain asbestos as their primary ingredient.

There are rules established to avoid the use of asbestos and exposure to it. However, there are retired dentists who then develop related diseases due to their past work with those materials. It may have been a long time since asbestos was used to manufacture dental products. Nevertheless, some dentists still experience respiratory problems and, in some cases, pleural mesothelioma.

Dentistry students may also be exposed to asbestos while using the tools and products that contain the mineral in class.

Pleural effusions or “water on the lungs” is one of the risks of exposure to asbestos products. The risks are still there even if your exposure is not severe but occurs every day in a poorly ventilated environment. You should also know that if you are exposed to asbestos-containing materials, it is not guaranteed that you will develop illnesses. Still, it is essential to note that inhaling or exposure to asbestos can be dangerous. Asbestos is not considered safe, even if you are only exposed to small amounts.

Does Asbestos Exposure Lead to Mesothelioma?

Once asbestos is released into the air and you inhale its fibers, you may be at risk of developing pleural mesothelioma. Various factors such as intensity, amount of time exposed, and type of industry increase the risk of illnesses related to asbestos exposure.

Pleural mesothelioma damages the tissue around the lungs. Symptoms of this type of mesothelioma vary on stage. The general symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Unusual lumps of tissue below the skin of your chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Painful coughs

Asbestos exposure is the cause of most cases of mesothelioma. Approximately 80% of all cases of this disease are linked to asbestos exposure, making it a significant risk factor.

You may not even be the one who was directly exposed to the source of asbestos. If you live with someone who works in an environment with asbestos-containing material, you are also at risk of developing mesothelioma. This is because the asbestos fibers can transfer to clothing and skin.

What to Do When You Get Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos exposure may lead to various lung diseases, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. What should you do if you are exposed or think you have been exposed to asbestos?

Most people who develop illnesses related to asbestos work in an environment where they are exposed to hazardous minerals every day, so a mild exposure does not mean you are to develop diseases related to asbestos exposure. Once you develop lung damage caused by asbestos exposure, it is not possible to reverse the damage. However, various treatment options may delay the progression of the disease and lessen the symptoms.

If you believe you have been exposed to asbestos, you should seek professional help. Asbestos exposure may lead to fatal illnesses, so you must consult a doctor. Your physician can monitor you for symptoms related to exposure to the material. If lung scarring occurs, your physician may suggest treatment like oxygen therapy to help you breathe. Lung cancer and mesothelioma have different treatments, depending on the stage.

About the Author

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Ruth Riley is an educator and writer. She teaches college linguistics and conducts studies regarding CBD. She believes CBD is one of the best natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs and that it is worth more in-depth research. She also lends her knowledge as a woman and an educator by writing for Motherhood Community and W-Radiology.


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