Numerous chemicals with adverse health effects are used at dental practices. Customers’ exposure to these is limited, because they only spend a short time at the dentist’s every so often. The staff, however, spend their days on the same premises year in, year out. This makes safe indoor air particularly important to them.
Chemicals at a dental practice – where do they come from?
When we go to a dental appointment, we are unlikely to give much thought to the chemicals used on the premises, even if we recognise the typical clinical smell as we walk in. As patients, we probably associate that smell with a high level of hygiene. It is a familiar smell that is actually made up of many different chemicals used on the premises. Dentists and dental nurses are probably so used to the smell that they no longer even notice it. And if the chemical smells are unnoticeable, do they even matter? Let’s take a closer look at these chemicals.
Dental amalgam and the mercury it contains has been much debated, and there have been attempts to stop its use within the EU. Mercury is very harmful to both the environment and people. In fact, handling amalgam has been found to cause allergies and even diseases of the central nervous system. However, dental amalgam is not the only chemical to which dentists and dental nurses, as well as their patients, are exposed.
The list of chemicals is long:
- polishes, casting alloys, fillers
- disinfectants, denatured alcohol, resins, solvents
- nitrogen oxide
Various processes, such as water purification, also release chemicals into the air. Because dental care takes place in a clean space, constant cleaning and normal detergents can also affect the quality of indoor air.
Indoor air problems are a risk to dental care professionals
Awareness of indoor air problems has increased in recent years, and dentists have also questioned the safety of the materials they use in their work. Indoor air quality is made worse by both small particles and gaseous impurities. Ultrafine particles, which we cannot see but travel deep into our lungs and even enter into our blood circulation, pose the greatest health risk.
When we spend a long time in affected areas, indoor air problems can cause allergic reactions and irritation of the throat and airways. Long-term exposure to chemicals also increases the risk of occupationally induced asthma and allergies.
Ultrafine particles include viruses and bacteria, which can cause problems very quickly, resulting in absence from work and fatigue. During the flu season, many patients cancel their appointments just to be safe from viruses, which has also been happening during the COVID-19 pandemic. But is there a way to avoid these particles and reduce the risk of infection during the flu season?
Electric air purification also removes ultrafine particles
Indoor air can be effectively purified, and the number of airborne viruses can be significantly reduced. Conventional HEPA and ULPA air purifiers, based on fibre filters, pick up the largest particles in the air well. When we want to remove and eliminate the finest and most hazardous particles from the air as well, there is no substitute for electric air purification.
Electric air purification is a patented and widely researched purification method that collects and destroys 99% of particles of 0.001-10 μm in size. This method is used at hospitals around the world. The method kills microbes, including viruses and bacteria, with an electrical charge in a way that eliminates the hazard they pose in the air and when cleaning the air purifier. Electric air purification also removes hazardous gases from the air. Read more about the method here.
Risks can be minimised by reducing the number of viruses and bacteria at dental practices
Viruses and bacteria are nanoparticles that can enter into the blood circulation, causing illness and absence from work. Such nanosized particles include the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which can be transmitted through droplets and aerosols. Sometimes this virus has spread regrettably efficiently at virus hotspots. During the epidemic, there have been concerns about the virus spreading at dental clinics as well. Even if people avoid shaking hands, it is impossible to keep a safe distance in this line of work. Masks, visors and gloves, together with disinfection, can help prevent infection. It is also possible to significantly reduce the number of viruses in indoor air.
You can protect staff and patients with room-specific electric air purifiers and local exhaust ventilation based on the same technology. As infections go down, so do sick leaves, and people work more efficiently. It has been established that improved indoor air quality increases work efficiency by 6%. Just imagine the efficiency gains that can be achieved at a dental practice where the indoor air is known to be laden with hazardous chemicals, and the risk of viral infection is unusually high.