When you trained to work in a dental office as a hygienist, dental technician or dental assistant, you likely didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on the inherent risks of the job. You just wanted to help people.
However, dentists and the professionals who assist them do face some dangers that can lead to injury or illness. Let’s look at some of the most common.
The dangers of dental equipment
Tools like probes, explorers and drills can cause serious puncture wounds. They can also transmit viruses through patients’ saliva and blood. These include hepatitis B and C as well as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
Excessive exposure to radiation that X-ray equipment produces can also be a danger if you and your colleagues don’t exercise the proper safety protocols.
Helping dental patients can be hard on your body
Leaning over patients, sometimes at odd angles, all day can cause a range of musculoskeletal injuries. One of these, carpal tunnel syndrome, can result from the repetitive motions of your hands while doing your job. Standing for long periods can contribute to the risks of these injuries.
Slips and falls can occur if the staff isn’t careful about monitoring the floor for liquids. Just the water that can spray out of a patient’s mouth or a poor aim at the spit bowl during a cleaning can be a slip-and-fall accident waiting to happen.
Workers’ compensation can help
Dentists should prioritize safety for their entire staff. This means implementing and enforcing safety procedures and ensuring that everyone undergoes the appropriate training. However, accidents can still happen.
If you’ve suffered an injury or illness due to your job, don’t hesitate to file a workers’ compensation claim. That’s what the insurance is there for. Don’t let your employer talk you out of it because it might hurt their bottom line or because you could have done something to prevent it. If you’re having difficulty getting the workers’ comp you need and to which you are entitled, it may be wise to talk with an attorney.