Health officials warn of possible HIV, HBV, HCV exposure from dental procedures

New South Wales health officials have warned that more than 12,000 patients may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C viruses as a result of poor infection control at four dental clinics in the Sydney, Australia, area, according to a press release.

Following investigation from the Dental Council of New South Wales (NSW) and the NSW health department, two clinics run by Robert Craige Starkenburg, DDS, have been closed, and several practitioners have had their registrations suspended. No cases of viral infection associated with improper procedures have been identified yet, and patients are considered to be at low risk of bloodborne infection. Nonetheless, health officials are advising those who received invasive gum procedures at The Gentle Dentist since 2005 and anyone who visited Starkenburg from 1990 to 2014 to seek testing for these infections.

“All dental practitioners are required to comply with the codes, guidelines and standards set by the Dental Board of Australia, including its ‘Guidelines on infection control,’ ” health officials wrote in the statement. “The Dental Council of NSW has referred Dr. Starkenburg and practitioners at The Gentle Dentist who have had action taken against them to the [Health Care Complaints Commission] for investigation.”