It’s Health and Safety Gone Mad – isn’t it?

By Celia Burns on 4th April 2014

Lots of patients find it amusing that we insist on them wearing safety goggles as soon as we lie them back in the chair – even for a check up.

Of course, when they ask “why are you doing that?” the easy answer is “because we are legally obliged to”, but there is a more important reason too.

When you lie on your back with your eyes open, gravity will ensure that anything above you that isn’t held or attached to something will fall in your eyes. When we are treating you, little flecks of tartar, infected plaque, and sharp pieces of filling can be flicked into the surrounding air, and they will then settle onto whatever is below – which of course can be your eyes. The damage done can be very significant indeed.

I realised the importance of this many years ago at a time when I didn’t routinely wear goggles when I was performing dentistry. I had an optician appointment, and was surprised when the optician asked me if I had come straight from work. Answering in the affirmative, I asked how he knew. “Because I can see bits of dental amalgam floating round in your eyes” came the reply.

I was in no pain and had no idea that any foreign bodies were in my eyes at all, but from that day to this I don’t do any work without eye protection for me and for my patients and staff.

And as for why patients need glasses for check ups? Occasionally, in any environment however well maintained, things fall off ceilings!

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About the Author

Celia Burns - Principal Dentist & Clinical Director

My first love isn’t teeth; it’s people. That’s why I love being a dentist. It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to help an anxious patient, who has possibly avoided going to the dentist for many years, build their trust in me, and I get a real thrill from helping someone achieve the confidence in their smile that they want.

Six Month Smiles BACD - British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry British Dental Association The Oral Health Foundation GDC