Since the late 1960s, investigators have assessed the risks associated with exposure to a variety of potentially harmful agents used in dental practice. This paper provides a brief overview of the epidemiologic literature examining the associations between occupational exposures to elemental mercury and anesthetic gases and reproductive outcomes, such as spontaneous abortion, congenital abnormalities and reduced fertility. Most of the epidemiologic evidence points to a significant relationship between exposure to nitrous oxide and both spontaneous abortion and reduced fertility. There is also evidence for an association between exposure to ethylene oxide and spontaneous abortion, but on the basis of the limited research available, this relationship does not appear to be statistically significant. At this time, evidence of a relationship between exposure to elemental mercury and spontaneous abortion, congenital abnormalities and reduced fertility is limited. Good mercury hygiene by dental personnel and the use of scavenging equipment on nitrous oxide systems and exhaust systems on ethylene oxide sterilizers may reduce the risk of adverse reproductive outcomes.
Reproductive Outcomes among Dental Personnel: A Review of Selected Exposures
• Sandra M. Olfert, PhD •
A b s t r a c t
MeSH Key Words: abnormalities/epidemiology;dentists, women; pregnancy outcome
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