CDC warns dentists on dangers of IPF – agency doesn't know what's causing the diseases

While only 200,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis at a single time, the CDC found eight dentists and one dental technician in Virginia are suffering from the lung disease, according to The Washington Post.

Here are five things to know:

1. The CDC reported dental professionals were 23 times more likely to develop IPF than the general population. However, the CDC is unaware of what in their work environments is causing the disease.

2. In 2016, a Virginia dentist contacted the CDC to report he was diagnosed with IPF and several other dental professionals were being treated at the same clinic. The investigation lead to the discovery of 900 patients being treated at the clinic during a 21-year period, nine of the patients worked in dentistry.

3. Dentists and staff are exposed to silica, polyvinyl siloxane, alginate and other toxic substances that can be inhaled when polishing dental appliances or preparing amalgams. The report also indicates older dentists fare worse due to the increased opportunities for exposure.

4. The patient who first reported his case to the CDC never smoked but did not wear a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-certified respirator when practicing. Although he may have began wearing the mask halfway during his career, it may not have been enough to stop the disease.

5. There is no cure for IPF, but there are preventive measures, such as ventilation and wearing a respirator during specific dental procedures. This is the first time the CDC has warned dentists and staff may be vulnerable to IPF.

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