Do you often leaf through a glossy magazine while awaiting your turn at a doctor's clinic? Beware!
Experts have warned that magazines in the waiting room can provide a welcome distraction before having to face the dentist, but they could do more harm than good by spreading germs, claim infection experts.
They insist that magazines should be thrown out or recycled after just a week and not left out to be leafed through by patients for a very long time, the 'Daily Mail' reported.
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) has handed out a warning to a dentist in Lyme Regis, Dorset.
The dentist was warned that ignoring it could lead to her failing an inspection by the Care Quality Commission.
Experts from Dorset Primary Care Trust have warned that Blu-tack on posters in her waiting room posed a health risk if re-used.
The dentist, who has practised for more than 30 years, said: "I can't believe the magazines would pose any risk to patients. We have some dating back to 2004. Generally we try to keep up-to-date but plenty of old magazines are quite interesting."
The Care Quality Commission stressed that waiting areas should be kept clear of clutter.
"There is no specific requirement for practices to remove magazines within a specified period," a commission spokesman said.
"However, practice owners, as part of a regular cleaning schedule, should ensure that the magazines are in good condition and free from obvious contamination.
"This advice will be kept under review and may be modified in the event of any future community infection outbreaks," the spokesman said.
The General Dental Council said it was heavy-handed to wage war on magazines. "Providing magazines in waiting rooms for patients is a good way of helping them relax and can ease the concerns of anxious individuals," Dr John Milne, chairman of the organisation's general practice committee, said.
He added that posters are used to give advice on oral health or provide information about the surgery and its services. Previously magazines were removed from some doctors' waiting rooms during the swine flu outbreak, the report said.