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Highlights for Dental Care as a Hepatitis C Risk Factor: A Review of Literature.

Sciprofile linkLeon D. Averbukh, George Y. Wu
Journal of Clinical and Translational Hepatology , Volume 7, pp 346-351; doi:10.14218/JCTH.2019.00023

Abstract: Hepatitis C (HCV) is a viral infection that affects an estimated 71 million people worldwide, with over 1 million new infections yearly. While medical treatments exist, HCV continues to be a significant public health concern. Primary prevention and transmission risk factor identification remain key in helping decrease disease prevalence. While intravenous drug use, healthcare exposure (i.e. blood transfusions and surgical care), and body modification (i.e. tattooing and piercings) are well accepted risk factors for HCV transmission, others remain controversial. Because dental practice is often associated with procedures and bleeding, the possibility of HCV transmission seemed reasonable to investigate. Here, we review the evidence for dental care as a potential risk factor for HCV transmission. We identified a total of 1,180 manuscripts related to HCV and dental care, of which 26 manuscripts were included in the study after exclusionary criteria were applied. As per our review of the available literature, in the developing world, the improper use of sterile technique and lack of provider education likely increases the risk of HCV transmission during dental care. In developed nations, on the other hand, general dental care does not appear to be a significant risk factor for HCV transmission in non-intravenous drug user patients; although, the improper use and reuse of anesthetics during procedures poses a rare potential risk for viral transmission.
Keywords: risk factors / hepatitis / hepatitis C / dental care / oral care

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