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Exposure at dentist?
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Exposure at dentist?

Just curious if I should be concerned. My dentist was doing some drilling and would continually flip the switch on the overhead light with her gloves on, then continue working on me. The handles were covered with disposable bags, but the switch wasn't. I find it hard to believe they think to sanitize that switch after each patient. She touched the drill bits with the same gloved fingers that touched the switch. There was blood involved (I saw it on the gauze she used). Is there any real risk involved from this?
13 Comments Post a Comment
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766573_tn?1365170066
Wasn't the blood on the gauze yours? Based on what you describe it sounds as it it was only your blood and the dentist was wearing cloves and using gauze (which I am assuming was sterile).

Hepatitis C involves the exchange of infected blood with your blood. It has to be in a manner that gets into your blood stream. So if the equipment or something she used was not sterile or there was something else going on I am not sure what kind of infection you would be at risk for but under the circumstances you outline I am not really seeing how HCV could be a factor here.

My dentist knows I have HCV. He has for years. He explained to me some of the practices in place that we may not even be aware of. He has such modern equipment in his office. I can get X-rays on the spot and they can compare them to the previous set.

I had extensive dental work in 2011 and saw the dentist on average three times a month for nine months or so. I was more concerned about me passing the virus to them. One day the hygienist showed me how there are personal barrier techniques (which may not be apparent) that are incorporated into almost all the sophisticated technology and equipment.  Plus as you noticed your dentist wore gloves. Depending on the procedure there is also a facemask, eye protection and over- gown wear.

At my dentist's office I see them place all the tools on the tray and depending on the procedure his assistant hands them to him. Virtually everything I see on the tray is disposable, one time use instruments. He explained that they never  use a dental drill bit more than once and that most instruments are "autoclaved" which kills infectious bacteria and viruses.

So at that point I suppose I have to take a leap of faith.

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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you for your comment. To answer your question, the blood was mine. I was just using it to show that I was wounded with the instruments she was touching after handing the lamp switch several times. My only concern is if she did the same with every patient, couldn't there be infectious blood on the switch?
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Avatar_m_tn
Did you talk to the doctor about it.  Sounds like you know it wasn't ok to do that.  You could start by calling to health department and making a complaint.
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4896357_tn?1360674504
I've also had extensive dental work done over the years and consider it a prime suspect in how I may have contracted HCV.
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Avatar_f_tn
wow...did you all see the evening news 3/28 where they were talking about the dentist in Oklahoma who may have infected over 7000 people?  they are advising anyone who went to him to go get checked for Hep C and HIV.
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766573_tn?1365170066
Wow I saw that story and I was stunned!

Here is a brief account of the story (The health departments noted that transmissions of these diseases in this type of occupational setting are rare)

The guy's records only go back to 2007 and he has been licensed since the 70s


Tulsa television station KOTV cites 17 violations:

    Charges include: a patient testing positive for HIV and Hepatitis C; the dental practice being unsafe, unsanitary and lacking of sterilization checks; committing gross negligence related to decisions related to the dental health care of patients; practicing dentistry without proper display of licenses and certifications; violation of provisions of the State Dental Act by failure to keep a suitable record of dangerous drugs; unlawful practices in authorizing dental assistants to practice dentistry; and having open vials or medication and unsanitary dental materials in an unclean environment.

Alleged violations include allowing assistants to administer IV sedation, which only a licensed dentist may perform, and keeping incomplete drug logs and expired medications, the Tulsa World reported. Inspectors found an unlocked, disorganized drug cabinet with a vial that had expired in 1993.

Susan Rogers, the executive director of the dental board, called the allegations "very, very unusual." She told KOTV that Harrington handled a high volume of patients with hepatitis or HIV. She said Harrington had no previous complaints.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/03/28/hiv-oklahoma-dentist/2028865/
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4670047_tn?1375734001
This was creepy. I made q come upstairs so I could read it to him. I looked up the story from abc news after reading what you wrote!! He's never herd of the dentist. Thank goodness. But when I heard Tulsa I had to ask him. He lived in Tulsa from 1966--1983
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Avatar_m_tn
Yep, a real shame but then to us with HCV (just finished tx last wk) only surprising it doesn't make the news more often as ~30% of cases have 'unknown' risk factors. The real kicker was the CDC induced panic disclaimer "only 3 cases have been acquired buy dentistry in the US"....right. Well 30% of the infected patients got it somewhere within the last 5,10,20, 30...years. And their suppose to 'prove' it was dental treatment related 25 years after the fact? The second news report on the incident interviewed a dentist who said that we should make sure our dentists use proper procedures such as opening the sterilized (packaged)  instruments in front of us...right, I've been to a lot of dentists in my life and can not ever remember a time the instruments weren't already opened up and laying on the tray when I sat in the chair.
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Avatar_n_tn
I saw the same interview on the news with the dentist saying that we should make sure our dentists use proper procedures like opening the sterilized packaged instruments in front of us. I cringed because I went to a new dentist last month and had a few visits for minor filings and a cleaning.

When I arrived in the room during each appointment the instruments were also opened and laying on a tray already.(They were not opened in front of me) The practice is small and this dentist does the cleanings himself, although he does have an assistant who handed him tools during the filing procedure. I'm really concerned now that I may need to call my doctor and get tested for HCV and HIV. The instruments appeared clean but then again there are people in OK stating the same. I've been to dentists in the past and everything was opened in front of me usually.

For what it's worth this dentist I went to is near retirement, and it's not like the office has people coming in and out like cattle. He came recommended by many. When I saw the instruments laid out already I thought it was a bit different from what I was used to but I then thought to myself maybe he's old school etc. I'm not the professional he is. I thought I was safe. Now I'm questioning everything because he also did not wear a face mask or special splash guard glasses. He wore magnifying glasses but not the ones they show when you google it. Am I overreacting or is this justified? It's good to hear that not everyones dentist opens the tools in front of them, but I can't say that it helps my extreme anxiety over this situation now.

Please let me know what you all think, and your experiences with dentists not opening tools in front of you. Should I consult with my doctor or call the dentists office and ask more questions? I didn't go to the dentist much to begin with because I've always feared it. I'm kicking myself now because I realize that I may have been put at risk, but since I didn't know any better I thought it was ok for the dentist to have the tools already on a tray (not opened in front of you) by the time you sit down in the chair. My friend goes to the same dentist and said that the tools were already opened also when they sat down in the chair. When I asked if that concerned them they said no and laughed at me. Going on saying it's really clean there, he's a good dentist etc. etc.

I also recently had an appointment at ear, nose throat doctor for a ear issue I was having and the same thing occurred. The tools were laying out on a sterile paper when I walked in. Please help me figure out if I'm being irrationally fearful or justified fear with my concerns? My family says I need to have faith and relax that doctors/dentists will do the right thing, but I'm sure the people in OK affected by this had faith too. Thoughts?
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Avatar_n_tn
I had the same thing happen to me just recently. The light above the chair had blue disposable wrappers on the handle part and the dentist did touch that part. However at one point he needed to adjust the light again, so he touched the top of the lamp where there weren't any blue liners. I had a friend in the waiting room waiting for their appointment and after I was done there was a 5 minute delay between my appointment and theirs. Is that sufficient time to clean everything up? The dentist also opened the cabinets and drawers and they did not have blue disposable wrap on them then went back into my mouth. I assumed everything was cleaned between patients but after seeing that the next patient my friend was called in within 5 minutes of my appointment ending is making it hard to believe.....
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Avatar_n_tn
I also just wanted to throw something else out here while we're on the subject. I've read through tons of posts on this forum one of which was about someone asking the risk of HCV after spitting in the bowl at the dentists office that has the water running through it. The spit bowl. Someone asked a question in another thread about spit coming in contact with the bowl then with their mouth. The replies on that thread said most dentists if their up to date no longer have this. I've been to 3 different dentists and all have had the spit sink still. Does your dentist still have the spit bowl and do they still have you use it during your visit? Only one of the three I've been to have digital x-rays. (All were in the same state)
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Avatar_f_tn
'ya know I take my 10# dog to the vet.  I get charged a $10 bio-hazard charge every time I am there for "cleaning of room" ... isn't that a hoot.  Last spring I worked part-time with a friend who cleans doctor/dental offices at night.  I asked her...shouldn't you glove or mask.  She looked at me like I was crazy.  I did glove and mask for my protection.  I would empty the trash cans, sweep the floors and help clean the sinks.  There was no super spray cleaning agent...normal industrial cleaning chemicals.  I am suspect every time I go into a doctor office or hospital.

The key to remember is blood to blood.  I tell the gory story of my 1st gastro who said he could drink a cup of my blood and not get HCV unless he had open bleeding sores or cuts in his mouth, throat, etc.  Blood to Blood.  

However, I am ever vigilant.  When I was getting a shot last year the nurse tech started to give me the shot without gloves.  I made her put on gloves.  She was not happy but I really don't care.  

I am always up front with medical people and tell them straight out that I have HCV.   I got lambasted when I first started posting on this site but was told back in the '90's that the virus would remain active on stainless steel for a period of time.  Well, everyone wanted back-up.  I didn't have
a website to back me up...this was just something I had been told by my gastro at the time.  Of course there were web posts to the contraire  but really, it that weren't true than why do they tell you not to share razor blades and other things metal?  

I agree with the above posters....most of the dental rooms are already laid out when you get there...  Life is a risk, period.  Snuggled in a dental chair or driving like a bat out of hell down the road.  Never know....ps...I hate spit bowls too....and really people....do you see a cleaning attendant in a dental office who does a "bio-hazard cleanup" in between patients.  

Makes you want to arrive at all appointments with a arsenal of cleaning products at hand..........
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Avatar_n_tn
I think I may have been put at risk the more that I learn. 2-3 times the dentist told  me to close my mouth when the saliva ejector was in my mouth. I didn't know any better and did. I later found out that this is not a good practice http://www.dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/ddhright.aspx?id=7334 because it can cause backflow in the tubes potentially exposing you to disease. I'm really concerned that I need HIV and hep a,b(I'm vaccinated against b) and c testing now. It just seems that a lot of standard practices were violated.
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