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Hearing-damage risk and communication interference in dental practice

, : Hearing-damage risk and communication interference in dental practice. Journal of Dental Research 69(2): 489-493

The use of high-speed air-turbine handpieces, operated at 300,000 to 400,000 revolutions per minute, has led to concern over the possibility of noise-induced hearing loss. Sound levels were measured in clinical settings and in a pre-clinical laboratory for estimation of hearing-damage risk among dentists, and the extent of communication interference. Octave-band sound pressure levels were obtained with use of a Fast-Fourier-Transform analyzer and associated instrumentation. The results of this study indicate that the sound energy contribution of a typical dental practice is about 8% to 12% of the dentist's average 24-hour noise exposure. However, noise levels during dental procedures result in an articulation index of 0.21 to 0.37, corresponding to understanding of about 18% to 48% of nonsense syllables and 52% to 90% of sentences. It appears that hearing-damage risk is slight among dentists using modern equipment. However, further noise control in handpieces is necessary so that error-free communication during dental procedures can be ensured.


PMID: 2407759

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