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Int Dent J. 2004 Feb;54(1):26-32.

The incidence of occupational exposures among students in four UK dental schools.

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School of Dentistry, St Chads Queensway, Birmingham B4 6NN, UK.



To evaluate: the incidence of occupational exposures (OE) to patient body fluids among a sub-group of dental students; the rate of reporting of incidents; and the association of various factors.


Multicentre retrospective analysis.


Four UK dental schools in 2000.


Dental students from 4 UK schools completed a confidential questionnaire at the end of the clinical years of their undergraduate course.


The response rates ranged from 71-100%, showing that 12-40% of students among the schools had experienced one or more OE incidents since starting their course. No statistically significant association was found between OE incidence and age, sex, dominant hand or time of day; most OE occurred with handling of local anaesthetic syringes. 61-78% of incidents were penetrative in nature, and 28-53% of students had not reported their last OE. OE incidence was associated with school, year of course, presence of patient and presence of an assistant. There were substantial differences in the numbers of students experiencing OE among the schools.


Within the limitations of the survey and variations within the clinical activity of schools, it may be seen that improvements are needed in some schools to reduce cross-infection risks, and increase reporting of incidents. Suggestions are offered which may increase the safety of dental treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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