Eye Safety in a Dental Office

Dentist Wearing Safety GlassesWhen you go to the dentist, you expect to leave with your teeth in better shape than when you arrived. What you certainly don’t expect is to leave with an eye injury or infection.

Yet, that’s exactly what can happen if eyes are not protected during dental procedures. This danger exists both for patients and for dental professionals.

Injury and infection in the eyes can come from a variety of hazards in a dental office. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene and What Kind of Eyewear Should You Be Wearing say that both patients and dental team members can be injured or receive infections in many ways including but not limited to the following:

  1. Ocular contusions from clamps and sharp instruments.
  2. Conjunctivitis linked to waterline contaminant. This can include adenovirus and herpes simplex.
  3. Mechanical trauma from instrumentation transfer or particles projected by dental handpieces, which produce a velocity of up to 50 mph.
  4. Microbial infections from contaminated handpiece cooling mists and ultrasonic/air polishing units, which may contain bacteria and blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis B and C and HIV as well as herpes and rhinoviruses.
  5. Electromagnetic radiation from lasers as well as damage from UV rays from curing lights.

Fortunately, some very simple protective measures serve to prevent these and other types of injuries and infections.

  1. Every person in the examination room during a procedure should wear protective eyewear. This means goggles or safety glasses for patients, and goggles, safety glasses, or full-face safety shields for dental professionals.
  2. Dental health care personnel should also wear protective eyewear, such as full-face safety shields, during any patient-care activities that may generate splashes of blood, body fluids or chemicals as well as any flying debris. Note that this can happen between procedures as well as during cleanup, such as when replenishing processing solutions.
  3. Reusable eyewear should be cleaned per the manufacturer’s instructions or with soap and water between patients. In addition, there are a variety other ways dental professionals and patients alike can do their parts to increase dentist office hygiene.
  4. Eyewear should also protect against possible damage caused by radiation. Lens color and density of the eye protection will depend on the laser being used, so be sure to check with the experts at Safety Glasses USA to make the best choice for your laser safety glasses.
  5. Protection against possible UV rays from curing lights is also necessary. Eyewear, such as the Oakley Industrial M Frame Safety Glasses with Clear Lens, worn by patients and dental personnel should contain a UV filter.

OSHA requires that all employers provide eyewear or face shields for their employees that are impact resistant, ANSI certified, and that comply with American National Standard Practice for Occupational and Educational Eye and Face Protection.

But providing eye protection simply isn’t enough. Vital to protecting eyes not just in the dental office but in every setting where eye damage and infection is possible is making sure that eye protection chosen is functional and comfortable. Compliance often hinges upon this factor alone for many people.

If your dental professional does not offer you protective eyewear, ask for it. If you work in a dental office, make sure basic eye protection steps are taken. With proactive patients and professionals, the dental office can remain a place where both healthy teeth and eyes come out the door.

About Michael Eldridge

Michael Eldridge is the Founder and CEO of Safety Glasses USA, one of the web's largest providers of safety glasses and goggles. He's a US Marine Veteran who's particularly passionate about protective eyewear and helping people learn about vision safety. In his spare time he enjoys target shooting, fishing, camping with his family and watching Detroit Tigers baseball. You can follow Michael on Twitter @MikeEldridge73, Google or via the Safety Glasses USA Facebook Page.