Everyone knows that rock musicians, air traffic controllers and construction workers are susceptible to hearing loss, but your dentist also may experience the same work-related problem, reports the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing education.
Hearing loss occurs when the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged from loud and continuous sound (over 90 decibels), according to a recent study in General Dentistry, the clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry. Although most people experience hearing loss as a result of age, others experience a loss from working in a profession where loud noise is regularly produced over a period of time. In most cases, hearing loss is the result of both a person's age and profession.
"Dentists are susceptible to hearing loss because of the dental handpiece or drill, which is used to remove decay and prepare teeth for crowns," says Jay Orlikoff, DDS, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry.
Studies have shown that dentists who are left-handed tend to have increased hearing loss in the left ear, and those who are right-handed have more hearing loss in the right ear, he says. To protect themselves from a serious loss of hearing, dentists may use ear plugs, which muffle the intensity and frequency of the noise. Another way dentists protect themselves is to maintain proper posture and maximize the distance between themselves and the patient.