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Health: Dentistry and vCJD

Volume 691: debated on Thursday 19 April 2007

My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Caroline Flint), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Given the national interest in vCJD and its implications for the health of the nation, I report a change in healthcare practice being announced today in a letter to all dentists in England from the Chief Dental Officer. His letter is about decontamination and reuse of instruments, especially those used in endodontic treatment. This letter reflects precautionary advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee and early results of ongoing research indicating a potential risk of vCJD transmission associated with endodontic treatment.

The Chief Dental Officer advises that:

endodontic reamers and files are treated as single-use;

the highest standards of decontamination are observed for all dental instruments; and

manufacturers' decontamination instructions are followed for all instruments, and where instruments are difficult to clean, single-use instruments should be used wherever possible.

A copy of the Chief Dental Officer's letter has been placed in the Library.