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Volume 175: debated on Thursday 5 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what reports he has received from the chief medical officer about the possible spread of HIV and AIDS via dentistry practice; whether any consideration has been given to the use, on one occasion only, of disposable drills; and if he will make a statement.

Current evidence supports the view that there is little risk of transmitting infectious diseases, including HIV and AIDS, during dental treatment provided that recommended cross-infection control procedures are practised during the treatment of all patients. The chief dental officer of the Department of Health issued advice, explaining that infection with HIV was less easily transmitted than the hepatitis B virus and reminded practitioners of the recommendations of the expert group on hepatitis in dentistry—1979 HMSO—on the need for proper precautions. The chief dental officer reiterated his advice in May 1988. A copy has been placed in the Library.Most dental drills—burs—are made of carbon steel, tungsten carbide or diamond and are not suitable for single use. They can most conveniently be sterilised by saturated steam in an autoclave.