HIV Prevention and Testing > Am I Infected?

worried about dentist visit



I know this probably sounds irrational, but I went to the dentist yesterday for the first time in a while, and i hadn't been to this dentist before. I only had a scale and polish done, but he had to scrape my teeth quite throughly and caused my gums to bleed in various places where he scraped near the gum line.

Afterwards I became worried that he may have used the scraper on someone else before and any blood from that patient would have been punctured into my gums afterwards. I know this fear is perhaps irrational, but do i have a risk here?

thanks in advance

I can assure you that a dentist would NOT re-use equipment on more than one patient. There are VERY strict guidelines that must be followed. It just simply would not happen. The hygienist prepares a new set of tools for each patient. You have absolutely NOTHING to worry about. Call your dental office and ask them about the procedure --- it will put your mind at ease, I promise you.

Thanks for your quick reply

I was worried because this was a local NHS dentist in London, and it was a very small operation. There was only a receptionist and the dentist himself, so no-one else to assist with the work.

But I will try and contact them anyway, thanks

Just another note to follow up - I don't like leaving a worried-well thread like mine for others to read (and possibly get worried about themselves) without some resolution.

Well, first I acknowledge I have health anxiety issues, and finally yesterday my CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) sessions came through my GP. I still worry about HIV despite numerous negative tests including last one at over 6 months past "exposure". Even yesterday my partner used some of my cum when masturbating and I started to worry about infecting him, even though rationally I have nothing to pass on! I have to deal with these thoughts when they come along and try and realise that I'm over-reacting. I know from my time on this site that masturbation, even with HIV-infected semen, is pretty much no risk, as the virus does not survive well outside of the body, and the penis would need to have some serious damage to even facilitate the possibility of infection through such an action, and there have been no reported cases of infection in this way.

Anyway, I contacted the dentist (who, although operates alone, is pretty high up in dentistry terms), and he confirmed to me that:

"I don't think that the fears that you mention are irrational as there is always a theoretical risk of cross infection if instruments are not sterilised. As far as I am aware this has never happened anywhere even when instruments were only placed in boiling water in the now distant past. Do not be concerned of any risk of cross-infection as all instruments at my practice are fully sterilised between patients."

Before I sign off and try and get on with my life, I would like, from my experience of HIV-fears, to let others know that, when you are told "don't spend hours on the internet googling and researching everyting", take note. Stick to one place if you have to, like this site. There is so much information out there than can easily be misinterpreted when it is intended for medical professionals, and so much is badly out of date and also incorrect. It's totally 100% true that if you feed a fear, then it won't go away. It is my own fault that I kept researching every little thing and rare cases of HIV, so when I finally accepted my negative result, my mind immediately began to fixate on other illnesses, mostly much more serious than HIV. I had developed a pattern of behaviour through my HIV worries and have learnt the hard way that you can not self-diagnose anything. 

I hope this helps someone. Anecdotally from health professionals I have seen regarding HIV, all said that research continues to confirm that virtually all seroconversions are complete by 5 to 6 weeks, but the Department of Health is not going to risk anyone's health in the rare case that they might take longer than 6 weeks, (and also for some political/legal reasons), so the window remains 12 weeks. I also had this written response recently from Terrence Higgins Trust in UK.

"Do you think it likely that the Department of Health would be using HIV tests that wouldn't pick up all HIV infections? I think it unlikely in the extreme that the Department of Health would be telling people that 12 weeks was enough if there was a chance that you would have undiagnosed HIV. There have been no cases in the past 10 years in the UK where someone has tested negative at 12 weeks and then gone on to test positive".

I hope this helps someone out there.


Congrats on managing to get CBT through your doc! Even though CBT has been shown to have better long-term results than medication, it can be very difficult to be seen in the UK by a CBT practitioner. Stick with it - it usually involves somewhere between six and twelve sessions, with occasional top-ups when needed. CBT is good stuff.

I'm glad this site has been a help to you. Good luck with the CBT - I think you'll enjoy learning to be the master of your thoughts and emotions instead of the other way around.



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