danger from the vapors, direct contact with many
materials, such as etchant acids, radiographic
solutions, endodontic materials, or bleaching agents
can cause chemical burns of the skin or eyes.
Proper storage of chemicals is critical for safety.
The type of container and cabinet, security, and
proximity to other chemicals, materials, heat, or open
flame are areas that need consideration and control.
How to Eliminate Hazards
Proper ventilation can eliminate hazards associated
with most gases and chemicals. Instructions must be
written for the safe use, storage, clean up, and disposal
of hazardous or contaminated items. Storage rooms
must be properly furnished and maintained. Personnel
protective equipment, such as a mask, shields, rubber
gloves, rubber or plastic aprons, eyewear and eyewash
stations must be available. Next we will discuss some of
the specific chemicals used in dentistry and their
Examples of organic chemicals include alcohols,
ketones, esters, solvents, and monomers, such as
When using these chemicals,
you should avoid skin contact and excessive inhalation
of vapors. Always work in a well-ventilated area with
these types of chemicals. When not in use, keep
containers tightly closed and stored on flat, sturdy
surfaces. After each use, clean the outside surfaces of
the containers to prevent residual material from
contacting the next user.
These chemicals are used to process radiographs.
When handling these chemicals, always work in
well-ventilated areas, and wear protective eyewear,
plastic apron, and rubber gloves to avoid skin contact.
When mixing the solution, minimize your exposure to
the dry powder.
If spills of these chemicals occur,
clean them up at once. If you should come in direct
contact with these chemicals, wash the chemicals off
with large amounts of water and a pH-balanced soap.
Store radiographic solutions and chemicals in tightly
covered containers in a cool, dark place.
These solutions and gels are used for acid etch
techniques. When using or handling these products,
always wear protective eyewear and rubber gloves to
avoid skin contact. Always handle acid-soaked items
with forceps or gloves.
If spills occur, use a
commercial acid spill kit. in the event of eye or skin
contact, rinse the area with large amounts of running
Many items used in dentistry are flammable.
Solvents such as acetone and alcohol are examples.
When using flammable liquids, always have adequate
ventilation, never use where sparks or flames are
present, and have a fire extinguisher available. You
must store flammable liquids and bulk quantities in
tightly covered containers in an approved flammable
These products, which include dental plaster and
stone, are considered hazards because of their powder
form and of the dust particles created when they are in
use. When handling the powder form or trimming cast,
use protective eyewear, a mask, and work in areas with
an exhaust system. It is important to minimize your
exposure to the powder during handling.
To minimize personnel exposure and environ-
mental contamination of elemental mercury in DTFs,
follow the handling procedures in BUMEDINST
Mercury, which vaporizes at room temperature, is
a significant health hazard if a sufficient amount is
ingested, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled. The
potential for personnel exposure to elemental mercury
vapor has been greatly reduced by the use of
Because of the health hazard potential of mercury,
control procedures for the handling and disposal of
amalgam, or mercury-contaminated items are
Dental amalgam is an inter-metallic compound
comprised of various proportions of silver, copper, tin,
and zinc alloy mixed with pure mercury. This mixture
of metals forms a compound that is stable both