Oral health of workers in the modern Finnish confectionery industry


K. Masalin, Finnish Dental Association, Rautatieläisenkatu 6, SF-00520 Helsinki, Finland


Abstract The association between type of work and dental findings and the relevance of sugar dust as an occupational hazard to dental health was studied in workers producing sweets, biscuits, and bakery products, and in controls in a work environment not concerned with sugar. 298 employees, 42±11 yr of age, were investigated clinically and by means of chemical and microbiological tests of their saliva. Mean total time of work on the production line in question was 10±8.5 yr. Periodontal treatment needs increased similarly with increasing age in all subgroups. Subjects concerned with biscuit production had significantly higher DMFS values than subjects in the other groups. They also had significantly higher numbers of untreated cavities: 79.6% compared with 54.7% in those making sweets, 48.3% in bakery workers, and 62.6% in the controls not exposed to sugar. High levels of lactobacilli and Streptococcus mutants were found equally in all subgroups. Because work hygiene measurements have previously shown that sugar and flour dust concentrations were below accepted limits in the confectionery factory studied, the results do not seem to support the hypothesis that airborne sugar is an occupational dental health hazard. Some other factors need to be accounted for to explain the findings.