Changes in occupational health problems and adverse patient reactions in orthodontics from 1987 to 2000

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The purpose of the present investigation was to assess the reasons for changes in occupational health problems and patient reactions to orthodontic treatment after a survey carried out in 1987. Questionnaire data on occupation-related health complaints and patient reactions over the preceding 2 years were obtained from 121 of 170 Norwegian orthodontists (71 per cent). Most health complaints were dermatoses of the hands and fingers related to the processing of acrylic removable appliances, to composite bonding materials, or gloves. A few reactions were of a respiratory or systemic nature. In total, occupation-related dermatoses were reported by 17.4 per cent (21/121) compared with 40 per cent previously. Non-dermal complaints comprised 9 per cent compared with 18.2 per cent in 1987.Patient reactions were distributed equally between intra-oral reactions affecting lips, gingiva, oral mucosa, and tongue, and dermal reactions affecting the corner of the mouth, the dorsal part of the neck, the peri-oral area, cheeks, chin or skin elsewhere. A few patients had systemic reactions. The assumed eliciting agents of intra-oral reactions were fixed metallic appliances, acrylic removable appliances, polymer brackets or composite bonding materials, or were related to elastics. Extra-oral (dermal) reactions were attributed to metallic, elastic or textile parts of the extra-oral appliances. Some reactions were verified as allergies. The percentage of patient reactions in total was estimated to be 0.3–0.4 per cent compared with 0.8–0.9 per cent in 1987.The reduction in occupation-related health complaints among orthodontists was explained by changes in previously important hygiene factors such as soaps, detergents, etc., whereas the biomaterials-related reactions persisted. The reduction in the 2 year incidence of patient reactions was associated with a marked reduction in extra-oral reactions following preventive measures such as coating metallic devices, whereas the intra-oral reactions persisted at the same level as previously.

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