In 2016, Dr. Robert Pellerin, a dentist from Virginia Beach, Virginia, was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). This rare lung disease causes lung tissue to scar over time, making it difficult for the lungs to absorb enough oxygen into the bloodstream. While receiving treatment at Inova’s Advanced Lung Disease and Transplant Program in Virginia, Dr. Pellerin learned that he was the ninth person from the dental field to receive treatment for IPF at the center. Intrigued by this “curiosity,” Dr. Pellerin reached out to the Centers for Disease Control, which launched an investigation into this odd cluster. Researcher found that of the 894 patients treated for IPF between September 1996 and June 2017, eight were dentists and one was a dental technician. These dental professionals made up 1 percent of the IPF cases, and all but two of them passed away from the disease. One percent doesn’t sound like much, but in this case, it happens to be 23 times higher than the rate expected in the general population. Because there is no recognized cause for IPF, CDC researchers could not say for sure why
dentists seemed to be more at risk for the disease. However, it is believed that IPF may be brought on by environmental pollutants, like silica and hard metal dusts. These particles are all too common in dentistry, especially when polishing dental appliances or preparing amalgams and impressions. Dr. Pellerin admitted that in his 40 years of dentistry, he did not use a certified respirator when working. This is not the first time dental workers have been found to have higher rates of contracting lung disease. In 2004, another CDC report found nine dental lab workers in five states contracted silicosis, a lung fibrosis caused by inhaling silica dust. Silicosis is most commonly reported in mining, quarrying, and sandblasting jobs. The Virginia cluster does not mean everyone working in dentistry will be diagnosed with some sort of lung disease, but the CDC has called for further investigation into this matter. That being said, considering the unique occupational hazards those in the dental field face, it is always wise to wear the right kind of protective gear.
What’s the Link Between Dentistry and Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Braised Swiss Chard
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INGREDIENTS This recipe from chef Mehmet Gürs of Mikla Restaurant in Istanbul combines hearty greens with the bright flavor of tomatoes to a delicious effect. You can substitute bok choy or kale if you can’t find Swiss chard. DIRECTIONS
1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 1/4 pound (2 bunches) Swiss chard, trimmed and halved crosswise 2 large shallots, peeled and chopped 2 carrots, peeled and chopped 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2. Once heated, add Swiss chard and sprinkle with carrots and shallots. Put canned tomatoes over chard, add sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Add 1/2 cup water, and bring to a simmer.
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4. Partially cover skillet and cook until liquid is nearly evaporated, about 15–20 minutes.
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
5. Transfer to a large platter and serve.
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