Dentists, dental technicians and dental hygienists may have been exposed to asbestos during their careers in the dental field. Prior to the late 1970s, asbestos was incorporated into dental lining tape, which was used in the process of casting various prosthetics, such as crowns, bridges, dental inlays and removable dentures. Exposure to asbestos may cause mesothelioma or lung cancer years after an initial exposure to the mineral. Individuals who worked in dentistry were often exposed to asbestos in the process of casting dental prosthetics.

From the 1930s through the 1970s dentists and dental technicians were regularly exposed to airborne asbestos dust and fibers released from dental tape or dental paper. In dentistry, casting is used to create dental prosthetics, such as crowns, inlays and bridges. Dentists and dental technicians commonly used the lost wax method to create dental prosthetics. This method employed high heat temperatures to heat casting rings composed of rubber, metal or plastic. Prior to the late 1970s, casting rings were often lined with asbestos-containing paper or tape.  As extreme heat was applied to the casting rings, the wax melted, a void formed and molten metal was poured into the cast to form a replica mold of a tooth or teeth. Asbestos-containing dental tape was also used in other high-heat methods of casting metal and ceramic dental prosthetics. Dentists and dental technicians were exposed to asbestos when they cut and manipulated asbestos tape.  

Asbestos-containing dental tape exposures were generally small and infrequent, however, individuals who worked in the dental field have developed malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing dental tape. To date, there have been, 1 “six cases of pathology-verified malignant mesothelioma, mostly among dentists, following exposure to airborne dust from asbestos dental tape, which resulted in asbestos tort litigation. According to evidence available at present, chrysotile asbestos was the type of asbestos used in dental tape in the past in the United States, and the described cases followed relatively brief and intermittent exposure to this type of asbestos. These cases underscore the need for comprehensive exposure histories to determine exposure scenarios.”

Dentists and dental technicians who worked with asbestos-containing dental tape are at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. If you or a loved one worked as a dentist, dental technician or dental hygienist and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, we urge you to contact us regarding your legal rights.

1. Markowitz, SB, Moline, JM. “Malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in dental tape.” Am. J. Ind. Med. 60:437-442, 2017.