Potential occupational health problems for dentists in Flanders, Belgium

Clin Oral Investig. 2006 Mar;10(1):8-16. doi: 10.1007/s00784-005-0003-6. Epub 2005 Sep 22.


The aim of this study was to gather data on occupational health effects among Flemish dentists. A questionnaire on various potential health effects was sent out to randomly selected Flemish dentists. Pilot experimental studies were performed on hearing and sensory function of the fingers on small groups of dentists. Audiometric data of both ears, gathered with an interval of 10 years, were analysed. Sensory tests of the fingers were performed for dominant and non-dominant hands in relation to exposure time to (ultra)sonic equipment. Positive responses for the questionnaire were as follows: low back pain, 54% (stress-correlated); vision problems, 52.3% (age-correlated); infections, 9%; allergies, 22.5% (mainly latex); stress level was scored 7 on a scale from 0 to 10; diminished sensitivity of the fingertips, 6% and auditory disorders, 19.6%. Pilot audiometric data showed a hearing loss at 4,000 Hz for the left ear, presumably indicative of occupational noise trauma. The two-point discrimination ability of the dominant hand tended to diminish in line with the number of years of practice. Dentists in Flanders were found to suffer from various health-related problems. More elaborate studies are required to provide more details on the risks for occupational hearing impairment and vibration hand neuropathy and to determine whether the problems described were related to the practice of dentistry.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Audiometry
  • Bacterial Infections / etiology
  • Belgium
  • Dentists*
  • Hand / physiology
  • Hearing Disorders / etiology
  • Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology
  • Temperature
  • Touch / physiology
  • Ultrasonics / adverse effects
  • Vibration / adverse effects
  • Vision Disorders / etiology