A study of 215 Berlin dentists and 108 dental assistants recruited at the 1997 Berlin Dental
Society meeting assessed their occupational risk of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C
virus (HCV) infection, HBV vaccine coverage, and barrier prevention methods used. Among
dentists, 7% (95% CI 4–11) and 0·5% (95% CI 0–3) had serological evidence of previous
HBV and HCV infection, respectively. Similar figures for dental assistants were 1% (95% CI
0–5) and 0% (95% CI 0–4). Only 74% of dentists and 63% of dental assistants reported HBV
vaccination. Approximately half always used gloves, eye glasses, or face masks. HBV
unvaccinated dentists whose patients had HBV risk factors had a greater risk of HBV
infection; those who always wore face masks were at lower risk (OR 0·2, 95% CI 0·02–0·98).
These data indicate that among Berlin dentists, the HCV risk was lower than that of HBV and
that face masks may have lowered the risk of HBV. The use of eye glasses or gloves did not
appear to lower the risk of HBV acquisition in this population.