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May 30, 2016

Dental hygienists risk their hearing

A survey among experienced dental hygienists shows that they have a much higher prevalence of hearing problems than others.

Dental hygienists risk their hearing

An American survey among experienced dental hygienists who had been practicing for a minimum of 20 years explored the relationship between hearing difficulties and occupational noise exposure from ultrasonic  scalers.

The researchers found that long-term noise exposure to dental equipment, such as ultrasonic scalers, may contribute to hearing difficulties among dental hygienists.

Much higher prevalence of hearing problems

The prevalence of hearing difficulty among dental hygienists with an average age of 56 years was 40%.  This is considerably higher and younger than the reported US-national average.

Of the 17% of respondents who reported hearing difficulty due to ultrasonic scalers, 91% reported that their hearing difficulty was confirmed by an audiologist.

Respondents with hearing difficulty due to scalers were twice as likely to report significantly higher scaler use than those who did not have hearing difficulty after adjusting for age and other potential causes of hearing loss.

More than 1,000 dental hygienists participated in the survey.

The study was published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene.

Another study found that dentist also may suffer from noise-induced hearing loss.

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