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Dentist with Hepatitis B
July 2002

Q. Are dentists who have contracted Hepatitis (B) still allowed to practice? Is it safe for his patients if he occasionally does not wear gloves or a mask?

A. There are strict guidelines for infection control in dentistry, both to protect the patients and to protect the health professionals, from transmitting any infection in the dental office. Infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV are viral diseases that can be passed through body fluids, especially blood and sexual fluids.

During dental treatment, there is obviously blood and saliva present so precautions are strict. These include the universal usage of gloves and masks, frequent handwashing, careful handling and disposal of all needles and sharp instruments, and immunization against the hepatitis B virus. Vaccines do not exist for prevention of HIV or hepatitis C. Following these guidelines has prevented any known cases of hepatitis transmission for the past 10 years in the U.S.

Dentists who are carriers of the Hepatitis B virus are allowed to practice following these guidelines, and there should be no exception to the precautions described.



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