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19 August 2023

Needlestick injuries in dentistry: time to revisit


Blood-borne pathogens (BBPs) are infectious microorganisms that are found in human blood and can cause diseases in humans. Health care workers such as physicians, surgeons, nurses, dentists, dental students, dental assistants, laboratory technicians, personnel handling infectious waste, and other health care employees are at increased risk of exposure to these pathogens. Percutaneous injuries from needles or other sharp objects are the major sources of BBPs in the workplace. Needlestick injuries (NSIs) have the most potential to transmit and have the easiest mode of transmission of BBPs.

Types of studies reviewed

The authors searched electronic databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar, Scopus, Embase, MEDLINE-Ovid) for studies and articles focused on the various aspects of NSIs, their possible causes, prevention, and management protocols.


There is a lack of literature on the global prevalence of NSIs among dental practitioners and underreporting of NSIs by clinicians. The authors also found that dental students and inexperienced practitioners were the most vulnerable. They found apparent inconsistencies in guidelines and recommendations from various regulatory and statutory agencies in charge of limiting and managing NSIs.


The most significant occupational risks for health care workers globally are NSIs. Dentists are recognized as one of the high-risk groups for exposure to NSIs. Although the reporting rate was noticeably low, the frequency of NSIs among dental students was alarmingly high.

Practical implications

Appropriate and succinct training of dental health care workers is crucial for prevention and management of NSIs. It is recommended that dentists familiarize themselves with recommendations from such agencies and organizations as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and American Dental Association.

Anjali Ravi et al. "Needlestick injuries in dentistry: time to revisit." JADA. 1 August 2023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2023.06.004

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