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son experienced incident at dentist- please reply
Jul 21, 2010

Hello, 2nd time I ask this question because there is a small change of info. I'll repeat the whole question if you don't mind. My 5 year old son was getting a crown for a cavity and the dentist came too close to her finger with the drill while working on his front molar tooth. She stopped working and looked at her finger for a few seconds and then said "ok there goes my glove". She put another glove on and then visually inspected the drill for a few seconds and then proceeded to finish the job without any cleaning of anything. I wanted to ask her to sterilize the drill before using it again but for some dumb reason I said nothing.(I am kicking myself now) So she finished and everything seemed fine. I didn't see any actual bleeding from her finger but I wasn't that close. What if there was a small amount that got on the drill that she didn't notice or if it penetrated her skin but no bleeding until after new glove was on? In my previous question I asked if I should ask the dentist if she had any diseases to be concerned about but that is no longer an option. I ended up calling the clinic to ask and was told this dentist was a resident and has graduated and is no longer there. I didn't tell them why I wanted to talk to her I just ask if she was there. My question is: what is the chance my son would have contracted hepatitis B,C or HIV from this incident? This happened over six months ago and he seems fine, he had flu symptoms in the winter but I do believe it was just the flu. I haven't mentioned it to his pediatrician or even dental clinic because my husband says I'm overeacting and doesn't want people to think I'm crazy but after six months and now finding out I can't even ask the dentist herself as no forwarding number available, I can't get it out of my mind. I read that many people don't have symptoms until almost 20 years later and I would hate for my son to get this sad surprise when he's an adult if I don't look into it now, as early treatment for all concerns is best right? However, I also don't want to expose him to unneccessary testing if not needed as he is very scared of "shots". I was allowed to be there this time because he was scared of his first cavity being filled, but usually parents wait in the waiting area and we never see what happens back there. How risky is this situation now and for future dental visits? I hope I don't need to test my kids everytime they go to the dentist or worse, stop going all together. Could this be a situation that explains some of the people who have unknown causes of Hep B,C or HIV? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all these questions,I know you are very busy. God bless you always.

Response from Dr. McGovern

I think you should put this incident out of your head. You never saw blood and it would be quite reasonable to think the resident simply nicked her glove. I doubt there was any significant blood exposure.

I would not test your son.



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