What has caused this issue ?
How was it identified?
Why didn't I receive a letter in December?
What is being done to prevent this from happening with these dentists or with other dentists?
Is the dental clinic still operating?
What are the diseases I could be exposed to?
How will I know if I have these diseases?
What are the chances I will have one of these diseases?
What should I do if I think I have had an invasive procedure?
How do I know if I have had an invasive procedure?
I already have one of these diseases - who can I talk to about this?
I wish to make a complaint against a health practitioner - who can I talk to?
What tests do I need to have?
How soon will I know the results of the tests?
Will I have to pay for seeing my doctor and having these blood tests?
Should I have the test even if I attended Dazzling Dental and didn't have an invasive procedure?
What should I do if I have a positive result?
What does it mean if I have a positive result?
Is there any evidence that patients have been infected as a result of these problems with infection control?
Where can I find further information?
Why wasn't this picked up earlier? How do I know if the dentists are safe?

What has caused this issue?

Following a patient complaint to the NSW Dental Council, a public health investigation was carried out that included an audit of infection control protocols and procedures within the dental clinic. This audit showed that there were some problems with the cleaning, sterilisation and storage of instruments in that this wasn’t being done in accordance with guidelines set by the Dental Board of Australia. These problems are likely to have been present for some time.
 
At the time, an expert committee has examined the audit reports and other findings of the investigation and concluded that there was a risk that a blood borne virus infection (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV) may have spread from one patient to another from the use of these instruments in certain procedures where the instruments are in contact with gums with open wounds. Procedures where a risk may have occurred are called “invasive” procedures and include oral surgery, such as implant or removal of teeth, or procedures involving work on the gums or diseased or injured teeth.
 
This risk applies only to people who had an “invasive” procedure at the clinic between 15 January 2005 and 14 August 2015. The risk of any person being infected was assessed as low.
 
Patients were initially contacted in December 2015; however, as the practice had been in operation for 10 years and some patients may have moved house over that period, NSW Health concurrently sought updated patient addresses from Medicare. These updated addresses have recently become available and NSW Health is now writing to those patients who appear to have changed address.
 
Patients with only non-invasive procedures such as simple examination, and fitting of dentures or placement of crowns are not considered to be at risk.
 
The Dental Council of NSW has advised that the Dazzling Dental premises at Kogarah now satisfy infection control standards set by the Dental Board of Australia.
 

How was it identified?

The public health investigation was undertaken following a referral from the Dental Council. The Council had received a complaint from a patient of Dazzling Dental. The Council inspected the practice and identified serious infection control issues. The investigation included an audit of infection control protocols and procedures within the dental clinic and then discussion with an expert panel.
 

Why didn't I receive a letter in December?

If you changed your address and had not updated the dental practice’s records then you may not have received the original letter sent in December 2015.
 

What is being done to prevent this happening with these dentists or with other dentists?

The Dental Council of NSW suspended the registration of several dental practitioners who worked at the clinic.
 
The Australian Health Practitioner Registration Authority (AHPRA) has information on its website about the current registration status of all registered health practitioners including dentists. You can check the registration of individual practitioners, and any conditions placed on their practice on the AHPRA national register of practitioners.
 
The Dental Board of Australia, in partnership with the Dental Council of NSW, has written to every registered dental practitioner in Australia to remind them of their legal obligations and actions they may need to take to improve their infection control practice. The Board published a fact sheet which outlines the infection control obligations of dental practitioners, and what members of the public can do to ensure they receive safe care. The Australian Dental Association is assisting with promotion of good infection control amongst its membership. The Dental Council established a working group to consider additional regulatory actions in relation to infection control standards in NSW. The Dental Council is maintaining liaison with other stakeholders, including the Dental Board of Australia, education providers, and accreditation authorities to ensure further measures are initiated to strengthen the infection control practice in dentistry.
 

Is the dental clinic still operating?

Following the initial investigation, the Dazzling Dental clinic suspended operations. During this time improvements were made to the infection control practices and procedures at the practice in line with relevant National Guidelines. The Dazzling Dental clinic is now once again in operation. The Dental Council advises that the premises now satisfy infection control standards set by the Dental Board of Australia.
 

What are the diseases I could have been exposed to?

Poor dental infection control practices could cause an infection from bacteria, viruses or other organisms in the mouth. 
 
There is also a low risk that a patient who had an invasive procedure at this clinic may have been exposed to a blood borne virus potentially passed on via a dental instrument from another patient who was already infected.  The blood borne viruses patients should be tested for are hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and HIV.
 

How will I know if I have these diseases?

Bacterial infections would generally have caused infection in the mouth and have become evident with pain and/or swelling within a few days to a week of the visit to the dentist. No special test is required for these infections if you have no symptoms. 
 
Blood borne viruses may not cause symptoms at the time of infection or for years afterwards.  However infections with these viruses can easily be detected by a blood test.
 

What are the chances I will have one of these diseases?

The risk of someone who had an invasive procedure where dental instruments go into the gums getting a blood borne virus at the clinic is low. The risk may be higher if a person had multiple invasive procedures at the clinic.
 
People who have not had an invasive procedure that involves instruments going into the gums (e.g. simple examination or fitting of dentures) will have negligible risk of having caught a blood borne virus infection at the clinics.
 

What should I do if I think I have had an invasive procedure?

Unfortunately the records available at Dazzling Dental do not allow for NSW Health to determine which patients received invasive procedures at the practice. As a result we have notified all patients of Dazzling Dental informing them that if they have had at least one invasive procedure there is a low risk of a blood borne virus infection, and recommending that they see their doctor to discuss testing.
 
If you are unsure whether or not you had an invasive procedure, NSW Health recommend you see your doctor to discuss testing for blood borne viruses (hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV).
   

How do I know if I have had an invasive procedure?

Invasive procedures include oral surgery, such as implant or removal of teeth, or procedures involving work on the gums or diseased or injured teeth where instruments may be in contact with a gum (or tooth) with an open wound, e.g. root canal therapy.
 
Unfortunately the records available at Dazzling Dental do not allow for NSW Health to determine which patients received invasive procedures at the practice. As a precaution, NSW Health is therefore recommending that all patients who may have been affected see their doctor to discuss testing for blood borne viruses, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
 

I already have one of these diseases – who can I talk to about this?

Talk to your doctor about monitoring and management of your disease.
 

I wish to make a complaint against a health practitioner – who can I talk to?

Complaints should be made to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission in writing. Forms are available from the Health Care Complaints Commission.  The Commission can be contacted on 1800 043 159.  This phone line operates from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and can provide advice on how to make a complaint.  For the hearing impaired, please contact TYY service for on (02) 9219 7555.  Information on how to make a complaint is also available.
 

What tests do I need to have?

Your doctor can organise blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infection. 
 

How soon will I know the results of the tests?

Your doctor will advise you when the results of the tests will be available.  It is likely that results will be available in less than 7-10 days.
 

Will I have to pay for seeing my doctor and having these blood tests?

You should use your usual arrangements to see your doctor visit and get the blood tests – usual Medicare or private health care rebates apply.
 

Should I have the tests even if I attended Dazzling Dental and didn’t have an invasive procedure?

That is your decision, in consultation with your doctor. NSW Health advises that it’s beneficial for everyone to know whether or not they are infected with these viruses as there is now effective treatment available to prevent long-term complications. Many people, particularly those born in overseas countries may already have one of these infections without being aware of their status.
  

What should I do if I have a positive test result?

You should talk to your doctor about your results.
 

What does it mean if I have a positive test result?

A positive result means that you have been infected with a blood borne virus sometime in the past.  For hepatitis B and hepatitis C, you may have cleared the virus by yourself, or you may have a long term (chronic) infection.  Your doctor will tell you whether or not your infection is active now.  HIV infection is a lifelong infection.
 
There are many ways in which people can get infected with hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV.  If you have recently been infected with one of these viruses, your doctor should report it to the local public health unit, which can assist to investigate possible sources of your infection.
 
More information on infection with blood borne viruses is available from the NSW Health Infectious Disease Factsheets page.
 

Is there any evidence that patients have been infected as a result of these problems with infection control?

NSW Health is not aware that any patients of Dazzling Dental have acquired infection there. 

Where can I find further information?

Further information can be found at NSW Health website or contact your local public health unit on 1300 066 055.
 

Why wasn’t this picked up earlier?  How do I know if other dentists are safe?

All dental practitioners are required to comply with the Dental Board of Australia’s ‘Guidelines on infection control’.  These guidelines address how dental practitioners must practise in a way that maintains and enhances public health and safety by ensuring that the risk of the spread of infectious diseases is prevented or minimised.  Additionally, on renewal of registration as a dental practitioner each year a declaration must be made of compliance with the National Dental Board’s Guidelines.
 
The Dental Council has the responsibility to deal with complaints about the conduct, professional performance, health and competence (fitness to practise) of any dental practitioner employed in New South Wales (NSW) and any dental student. In the event that the Dental Council receives a complaint raising concerns about a dental practitioner’s infection control procedure, the Dental Council may authorise an inspection of the dental practice in order to assess compliance with the Dental Board of Australia’s Guidelines.
 
Information on the role of the Dental Council can be found on the Dental Council website . Alternatively, contact the Dental Council on 1300197177 or mail@dentalcouncil.nsw.gov.au.
Page Updated: Monday 11 July 2016