Thousands of patients have been told they could be at risk of infections such as HIV or hepatitis because of a dentist’s poor hygiene measures.
People in Bristol and Bournemouth have been sent letters alerting them to the potential risk of blood-borne infections after a dentist was found to have been operating poor infection control measures.
The concerns surround the possibility that dental instruments were not adequately sterilised.
NHS South Gloucestershire, NHS Bristol and NHS Bournemouth and Poole said the risk to patients was very low but they took the precautionary measure to reassure people.
Patients will be given the opportunity to attend a special clinic and have a blood test if they wish.
The dentist, a man who has not been named, worked at Frenchay Dental Practice in Bristol between January 2003 and July 2007, and at the East Street Dental Practice in the city for two weeks in December 2007.
Issues were raised when the dentist worked in the Bournemouth area from January last year.
He has been suspended pending an investigation by the General Dental Council.
In Bristol 5,000 patients who were treated at the two surgeries while the dentist was there have been sent the letters.
Director of public health at NHS South Gloucestershire, Dr Chris Payne, said there has never been a documented case in the UK of blood-borne viruses being passed from one patient to another in a dental practice and stressed that the risk is ‘very very low’.