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Cut from a Dental Bur


I am a dental student. I was treating a patient and cut myself on the bur I had been using to drill my patient's teeth. The bur may have also hit the patient's gingiva, although I genuinely do not recall weather any blood was drawn or not. (Dental burs look a bit like tiny drill bits). The bur attaches to our drill and sits upright in a holder while we are not using it. The bur was sitting in open air and I scraped the side of my finger on it as I was reaching for a different instrument. I did not notice the scrape until I got home later and was washing dishes and felt a sting. I didn't worry about it because the bur had been exposed to air, so I figured this made the virus non-transmittable, but my friends have been telling me otherwise and now I am worried. Even if there was blood on the bur, is there any risk of HIV transmission?

Much thanks



Thank you for your inquiry. From what we gather from the question, you were asking about acquiring HIV through a scratch of a instrument possibly containing bodily fluid. From the information given, this scenario is determined to be Negligible Risk: There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission. However, there is a theoretical possibility.

The scenario mentioned above does not meet the three components of the transmission equation. The equation requires bodily fluid, a high risk activity, and direct access to the bloodstream (1). In this case there was blood, no high risk activity ( these include: unprotected anal or vaginal sex, using shared needles, and breastfeeding while not on antiviral therapy), and a direct access to the bloodstream through a cut (1). Please consider this quote from CDC: "HIV does not survive long outside the human body (such as on surfaces), and it cannot reproduce outside a human host" (2). HIV becomes inactive when it is exposed to the environment such as blood on a bur.

Recommendation: There are no evidence or no documented cases of transmission refer to Physician for more personalized answers.


AIDS Vancouver Helpline/Online, Danielle