Date of Award

Summer 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Hygiene

Committee Director

Michele L. Darby

Committee Member

Joseph Sever

Committee Member

Susan Lynn Tolle-Watts


The purpose of this case-control study was to determine whether long-term ultrasonic noise exposure via the dental office environment is related to dental hygienists' hearing status. Registered dental hygienists (N = 698) who live in the Hampton Roads area were mailed a Dental Hygiene Work History Questionnaireto determine those meeting the inclusion criteria and willing to participate in the study. Consenting subjects were categorized into one of two groups according to ultrasonic scaler usage rate and matched on age. Persons with known hearing loss due to infection, disease, or congenital defect were excluded from the study. The final sample consisted of 20 dental hygienists with a high ultrasonic usage rate and a matched group of 20 dental hygienists who had a low ultrasonic usage rate. Once the groups were formed, a certified audiologist tested subjects' hearing in each ear via the pure-tone audiometer and tympanogram.