DENTAL HEALTH PRODUCTS, INC.
Voting on its annual shareholder letter, General Motors Co. said it is considering using a dental health product in an emergency response to protect its workers.
GM, which manufactures a number of products, including the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric vehicle, announced plans in September to use the product in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“We are exploring options with suppliers to ensure that the emergency medical response will meet the safety and reliability standards that GM holds itself to, including through the use of dental health and medical products,” GM said in a statement.
“GM will continue to monitor the safety of its products, and will update this report as necessary.”
In a separate statement on its website, the American Dental Association said it was “committed to supporting the use and safety of dental products by our members.”
A spokesman for the American Medical Association, which represents the nation’s largest doctors, said the association was reviewing the GM safety announcement.
The safety concerns raised about dental products came after a study last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the professional association for the U.S. pediatric population, found the use for emergency use of products with a medical use exemption (MED) could increase the risk of a potentially fatal infection and could increase mortality.
In its letter, GM said the use could include the use in the emergency response of dental floss that is “not compatible with the patient’s oral health,” a potentially serious problem for those who need to chew gum.
GM’s statement said the company was also considering the use to protect personnel and the environment.
On Wednesday, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released an updated analysis of the issue.
According to the report, while the majority of the safety data is in support of using oral health products in the ER, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that they may increase the likelihood of potentially fatal infections.
NIOSH said its findings in a press release on Wednesday indicated the risks posed by dental health items are increasing.
Among the factors that could increase an employee’s risk of an infection are: 1.
Oral hygiene: “The risk of bacterial contamination of dental surfaces is higher if the teeth are not cleaned properly or if there is inadequate use of hand sanitizer, toothpastes, toothpaste, and floss,” NIOSH said.
Occupational exposure: Occupational exposure is the most common exposure that can lead to serious complications.
NIOSH cited a study of more than 3,000 workers, which showed an average of four workers died each year due to occupational exposure to dental flours.
Prehospital use: There are no data to show that using oral care products in an ER will increase the chance of a fatal infection.
The risk of the infection to the health care provider: NIOSH also said its analysis did not determine whether oral health items were safer than other types of emergency medical devices, such as life-saving devices such as ventilators.
But NIOSH noted that in some instances, such devices can be lifesaving.
The likelihood of injury to the patient: NIHS said that using a medical emergency device is associated with an increased risk of injury and death.
The potential for exposure to a potentially dangerous contaminant: NIHO said the most dangerous contaminants to the environment and human health are dental flores, dental glue, and dental products.
The impact of dental equipment: NIHOS found dental flore is the primary source of contamination for some dental products, such inks, that are not designed to be handled in a non-porous environment.
NIHOs statement noted that the presence of flores in a patient’s mouth can also increase the severity of infection.