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J Can Dent Assoc. 2005 Jan;71(1):29-33.

Decreases in occupational exposure to ionizing radiation among Canadian dental workers.

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  • 1Healthy Environments and Consumer Safety Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.



To describe doses of ionizing radiation and their possible associations with mortality rates and cancer incidence among Canadian dental workers.


The National Dose Registry (NDR) of Canada was used to assess occupational dose of ionizing radiation received by dental workers. The NDR cohort includes 42,175 people classified as dental workers. Subjects in the NDR were linked to both the Canadian Mortality Database and the Canadian Cancer Database to ascertain cause of death and cancer incidence, respectively.


The cohort consisted of 9,051 male and 33,124 female dental workers. A total of 656 incident cases of cancer and 558 deaths were observed. The standardized mortality ratio associated with all-cause mortality was 0.53 (90% confidence interval [CI] 0.49-0.57). The incidence of cancer among dental workers was lower than that for the Canadian population for all cancers except melanoma of the skin (for melanoma, the standardized incidence ratio was 1.46 [90% CI 1.14-1.85]). Occupational doses of ionizing radiation among dentists and dental workers have decreased markedly since the 1950s.


Dental workers receive very low doses of ionizing radiation, and these doses do not appear to be associated with any increase in cancer incidence; the increased incidence of melanoma is more likely related to other risk factors such as exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight.

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