Many dental professionals don’t realize they may have been exposed to asbestos products in their daily work. Recently published research points to dental tape as one of the culprits of these asbestos exposures. Periodontal dressings are another possible culprit.
The companies that made these products have been held responsible in recent years. Some dental professionals have been awarded millions of dollars in compensation.
Asbestos Products in Dental Work
Even though it has been decades since asbestos was used in these products, past and present dental professionals are still developing respiratory issues and sometimes pleural mesothelioma. There is a long latency period, usually several decades, between asbestos exposure and the illnesses that follow.
Most cases of mesothelioma are caused by a recognizable source of asbestos exposure. According to an article from American Journal of Industrial Medicine, dental tape may be a source of asbestos exposure for dental professionals. Dental tape was not a common product, however, it contained asbestos from the 1930s through the 1970s. It was often used in the crafting of casting rings.
Casting rings were used to make:
– Dental inlays
– Removable dentures
An article written for the British Dental Journal points out that many students worked with asbestos products in dental school:“According to the 1991 report it was common practice for undergraduates at dental schools to cast a minimum of 40 sets of dentures, and those using this asbestos fibre-based roll are likely to have been exposed.”
Periodontal dressings were used postoperatively following periodontal surgery. The dressing protected the surgical site from infection and harm caused by chewing.
Researchers discovered asbestos was a main ingredient in periodontal dressing powders. When dental professionals mixed the powder with a liquid to form a putty mix, they were innocently exposed to asbestos dust.
Jury Awards $16.25 Million to a Dental Technician
The first asbestos lawsuit for dental tape exposure took place in 2008. Marvin Penn, a dental technician, was awarded $16.25 million after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Marvin’s main profession was being a mail carrier. However in the late 60s, he decided to attend dental technician school. Little did he know, he was exposed to asbestos while using dental tape to make castings by carving wax replicas of teeth.
Most mesothelioma lawsuits don’t go to trial, but in special cases they do. Penn was involved in a three week trial involving top medical experts. 40% of Penn’s exposures were attributed to his use of dental tape. The two dental supply manufacturers found liable were Kerr Corp. and Randsom & Randolf, which is now Dentsply Corp.
Since 2008, there have been 6 other cases of dentists diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma resulting in an asbestos lawsuit.