PATIENT EVALUATION

It is important that the Denturist use a comprehensive health questionnaire to identify medical problems which, in conjunction with denture therapy, adversely affect the patient. Denturists must, however, be aware that patients may have no symptoms from many infections which can be transmitted in the Denturist's office. This is particularly true of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV infection. The majority of patients with these infections do not know themselves that they are infected, and thus cannot tell their Denturist.

Relying on information provided by the patient to assess infectious disease risk is not advisable. All patients must be treated safely in order to protect both the Denturist and patient.

Occasionally, patients can give "socially convenient" answers to medical questions. Untruthful replies to medical inquiries can be intentional, but the vast majority are unintentional. Language difficulties or sheer ignorance can prevent a patient from understanding the meaning or intention of a question. In a recent study of 377 confirmed hepatitis B carriers, only 80 persons (21%) reported on their dental medical questionnaire that they had been exposed to hepatitis.

Only about one-third of hepatitis cases present with the clinical manifestations of severe illness and jaundice, leaving two-thirds of persons having had hepatitis unknowingly. These persons cannot inform the Denturist of a past history of hepatitis that they may have assumed was merely a bout of influenza. These same people are unable to accurately report their carrier status.

Infection control practice is the best way to protect your patients and yourself against infection and to protect yourself against litigation.

Follow a written infection control protocol and use the same infection control procedures for every patient