Dental composites typically contain high amounts (up to 60vol.%) of nanosized filler particles. There is a current concern that dental personnel (and patients) may inhale nanosized dust particles (<100nm) during abrasive procedures to shape, finish or remove restorations but, so far, whether airborne nanoparticles are released has never been investigated. In this study, composite dust was analyzed in real work conditions. Exposure measurements of dust in a dental clinic revealed high peak concentrations of nanoparticles in the breathing zone of both dentist and patient, especially during aesthetic treatments or treatments of worn teeth with composite build-ups. Further laboratory assessment confirmed that all tested composites released very high concentrations of airborne particles in the nanorange (>10(6)cm(-3)). The median diameter of airborne composite dust varied between 38 and 70nm. Electron microscopic and energy dispersive X-ray analysis confirmed that the airborne particles originated from the composite, and revealed that the dust particles consisted of filler particles or resin or both. Though composite dust exhibited no significant oxidative reactivity, more toxicological research is needed. To conclude, on manipulation with the bur, dental composites release high concentrations of nanoparticles that may enter deeply into the lungs.