According to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dentists were 23 times more at risk to contract a rare and incurable disease ‘idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis’
Dr. Robert Pellerin, a 73-year-old Virginia Beach dentist had sought care for his chronic cough at a tertiary care center in Virginia four years ago when he was diagnosed with a rare and mysterious disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The progressive ailment scars the lung tissue, causing it to harden and making it difficult to get oxygen into the blood. Unfortunately it carries a poor prognosis. Dr Robert and his wife therafter searched for the cause of the disease.
His effort prompted investigators at CDC to review records of 894 patients treated for. They found eight dentists and one dental technician with the disease, according to the CDC report released in March 2018. That was 23 times the rate that would be expected in the general population. CDC found only one person available to be interviewed: Dr. Pellerin himself. Seven others had died. He himself didn’t use masks or gloves during the early years of his career.
Until the mid-1980s, when OSHA mandated gloves and a mask to be used during dental treatment, which Pellerin has been doing for three decades now. There have also been reports of dental lab workers contracting “silicosis,” and pneumoconiosis. This underscores a need for dentists and other dental personnel to wear adequate respiratory protection when exposed to respiratory hazards at work. Dr. Robert Pellerin has made a mantra he tries to spread: “Don’t breathe in CRAP.” CRAP stands for “circulatory respiratory aerosolized particles”.