It was a unique report based on data collected in June 2020.
The result is far below that of other healthcare professionals in the United States. In addition, 99 percent of dentists use improved infection control procedures such as screening protocols and improved disinfection practices when treating patients. The report, published online prior to printing by the Journal of the American Dental Association, is the first large-scale compilation and publication of infection rates and infection control practices by U.S. dentists related to COVID-19.
“This is very good news for dentists and patients,” said Marcelo Araujo, chief executive officer of the American Dental Association (ADA) Institute of Science and Research, DDS, MS, Ph.D., senior author of the report. “This means that what dentists do – better infection control and increased awareness of patient and dental team safety – works.” Araujo added that the report’s authors, researchers from the ADA Institute of Science and Research and the Institute of Health Policy in Chicago will collect and continue to report data on infection rates from dentists and, in collaboration with the American Dental Hygienists Association, has hygienists on its ongoing Poll added. That report focused on nearly 2,200 dentists in June and found that 82 percent of dentists had been asymptomatic for a month prior to the survey and 16.6 percent said they had received a COVID-19 test. Those who tested positive were not grouped into any particular geographic region. Among those untested, less than one percent (0.32) received a likely COVID-19 diagnosis from a doctor. The authors weighted the results to match US dentists demographically and geographically, and found an estimated prevalence of less than one percent (0.9) with an error rate of 0.5 percent.
“Understanding the risks associated with transmitting COVID-19 in the dental environment is critical to improving the safety of patients and dental teams,” said Dr. Araujo. “This study takes us one step further in understanding what works. Dentists follow guidelines from the ADA and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and help keep the dental team and their patients as safe as possible. ”The New York Times listed dentistry as one of professions at highest risk of COVID-19 based on data from ONET, a US Department of Labor database. It has been suggested that virus transmission could occur due to the closeness between dentists and patients, and that many dental procedures generate aerosols that may contain virus particles from infected individuals.
This newly published report of the extremely low COVID-19 infection rate among dentists supports the effectiveness of the CDC and ADA recommendations to prevent virus transmission.
ADA guidelines call for the highest level of personal protective equipment (PPE) available – masks, goggles and face shields. ADA’s preliminary guidance also calls for the use of rubber dam and high-speed suction whenever possible, and manual scaling when cleaning teeth rather than ultrasonic scaling to minimize aerosols.
“The fact that dentistry has been cited as one of the professions most at risk for infection but has a far lower prevalence of infections compared to other health professions is no accident,” said Chief Economist and Vice President of the ADA Health Policy Institute Marko Vujicic, PhD . “The profession took this problem very seriously and it is showing. We will continue to track the COVID-19 rate among dentists and other facets of the pandemic affecting dentistry to inform the dentist profession and other industries. “(ANI)
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