Dental health care personnel are at risk for hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other infectious diseases. Got your attention? Dentists are at risk if they are cut while working inside of someone’s mouth, especially if they are bleeding. If a patient’s bodily fluid, saliva, tissue or blood gets into a wound, you are at risk for contracting a blood borne pathogen. For this reason, health care workers get hepatitis B vaccines. Fortunately, the risk of contracting hepatitis B from a single needle stick or cut exposure is very small.
You are not the only one at risk. In 1993, six patients contacted the AIDS virus from their dentist and later died. After this incident, public health officials developed stricter guidelines for health officials. For example, all surfaces in an examining room such as the chair, dental light, countertops and drawer handles must be cleaned. Dentists and other dental health care employees must wear gloves and masks when treating patients, according to the American Dental Association. It is highly unlikely that you will contract a disease or give someone a disease, but to prevent physical danger in the office it’s best to follow all suggested safety procedures.