Protection against the transmission of hepatitis B virus in dental practitioners: Better gloves, earlier vaccination, or both?



A survey of 434 oral surgeons was conducted to examine risk factors for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Overall, 112 (26%) of the participants demonstrated serologic evidence of past or current infection with HBV. Seropositivity was significantly associated with age, number of years in practice, and year of graduation from dental school but not with other variables examined, such as the number of patients seen annually or the number of patients seen who were at high risk of HBV infection. The strong correlation between years in practice and seropositivity was unaffected by reported use of gloves, face masks, or eye shields. The use of gloves and other protective devices does not appear to offer substantial protection against HBV exposure in oral surgeons, and all oral surgeons should receive HBV vaccine.