Hearing loss associated with long-term exposure to high-speed dental handpieces

Sarah M. Theodoroff, Robert L. Folmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to record and compare audiometric pure tone thresholds of dental clinicians (DCs), dental professionals (DPs), and dental students (DSs); determine the percentage of these groups who use hearing protection devices while at work in the clinic; and measure the sound intensities generated by a few representative highspeed handpieces while they are being used on patients. Participants included DCs who regularly used these handpieces (n = 16), DPs who did not use these handpieces (n = 13), and DSs (n = 8). A questionnaire was used to collect demographic information, assess occupational and recreational noise exposure, and note the level of hearing protection used. A sound level meter was used to measure the sound intensity generated by dental instruments near a clinician's ear. Results showed that DCs who regularly used high-speed handpieces had worse hearing than did members of the other study groups. These results indicate that the implementation of protective strategies should help to reduce the prevalence of occupational hearing loss among DCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalGeneral dentistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Hearing protection
  • Highspeed handpieces
  • Noise-induced hearing loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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