Quintessence Int 33 (2002), No. 5 (01.05.2002)
Risk and prevention of transmission of infectious diseases in dentistry
Araujo, Marcelo W. B. / Andreana, Sebastiano
Health care providers are at risk for infection with bloodborne pathogens, including hepatitis B virus, human immunodeficiency virus, and hepatitis C virus. Recommended infection control practices are applicable to all settings in which dental treatment is provided. Dentists remain at low risk for occupationally acquired human immunodeficiency virus. Dental health care workers, through occupational exposure, may have a 10 times greater risk of becoming a chronic hepatitis B carrier than the average citizen. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In general, persons suspected of having pulmonary or laryngeal tuberculosis should be considered infectious if they are coughing, are undergoing cough-inducing or aerosol-generating procedures, or have sputum smears positive for acid-fast bacilli. Although the possibility of transmission of bloodborne infections from dental health care workers to patients is considered to be small, precise risks have not been quantified by carefully designed epidemiologic studies. Emphasis should be placed on consistent adherence to recommended infection control strategies, including the use of protective barriers and appropriate methods of sterilization or disinfection. Each dental facility should develop a written protocol for instrument reprocessing, operatory cleanup, and management of injuries. Such efforts may lead to the development of safer and more effective medical devices, work practices, and personal protective equipment.