Is getting a dental treatment during the covid-19 pandemic safe? A recent study says, YES. The study conducted states that the risk associated with a dental procedure during the pandemic is no more than drinking a glass of water.
There many been many misconceptions regarding the safety of dental procedures since the beginning of the pandemic. The main spread of the coronavirus is through respiratory droplets, the key points of the entrance being the nose and the mouth. Dental procedures are known to produce aerosols due to the use of dental drills and ultrasonic scalers. This led to the general fear that the saliva containing aerosols released during cleaning or restorative procedures would make the dental clinic a covid-19 transmission house.
These fears kept the general population from getting the dental treatment they needed. Owing to this, researchers from Ohio State University conducted a study to analyze whether saliva is the primary aerosol source. They collected samples from dental personnel, equipment and other areas where aerosol was reached during the dental procedures.
They analyzed the genetic makeup of the organism in the samples collected. This analysis determined that the water from the dental irrigation tools was the primary source of any bacteria or virus present in the splatter, not the saliva itself. Samples of aerosol from patients having low levels of SARS-Cov-2 virus were also tested for the same. After testing, it was seen that the aerosols generated by operating on such patients also have no signs of the coronavirus. The content of the aerosol was similar to the one usually found in the dental office.
The lead author paper, Dr. Purnima Kumar, also concluded that regular teeth cleaning in the dental office do not increase the risk for covid-19 infection any more than consuming a glass of water from the dental office.
These findings are significant for a patient in need of dental treatments but are not opting for it due to the fear of the virus. In addition to this, various researches are being conducted worldwide, showing how poor oral hygiene worsens the progression of the diseases in a covid positive individual.
We all know the importance of maintaining good oral health. Brushing twice a day and regular flossing helps keep dental diseases away. Good oral health has also been linked to good overall health. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the status of oral health influences the severity of covid-19 infection. It has been found that people with poor oral hygiene tend to have more severe coronavirus infections and take longer to recover compared to the ones having good oral health.
In the past, research showed that aerosol produced during dental treatments tends to land on the dental professional’s face, patients chest and could travel as far as 11 feet. However, more studies were conducted on aerosol production, and it was seen that most of these were only bacteria that did not essentially come from the saliva.
Since the beginning of the pandemic and even before that, saliva has been considered the infective agent. This was when Dr. Kumar decided to search for the answer to the question – whether saliva is the source of dental aerosols.
The study enrolled 28 patients who were about to receive dental treatments like dental implants and restorations. High-speed drills and ultrasonic scaling were used during these procedures, which took place in Ohio State’s College of Dentistry from May to July of 2020. Samples of the patient’s saliva and the dental irrigant solution were collected before the procedures and 30 minutes after the procedure. Apart from this, samples from the dental provider’s face shield and patient’s bib were collected. Samples were even taken from an area 6 feet away from the dental chair.
The team used genomic sequencing to analyze these samples and saw the microbes present were normal inhabitants of the environment. 78% of the bacteria present in the aerosols came from the water and the irrigants, hardly 1.2% came from saliva. Even in patients in whom the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected, the aerosol produced showed no sign of it.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that dental checkups and procedures during the covid-19 pandemic are as safe as they were before. It is safe for the patients and the dentists as well. Using an antiseptic mouth rinse before the beginning of the dental procedure also lowers the viral load and diminishes the chances of transmission, if at all. Please schedule an appointment with us today to ensure you are at the top of oral and overall health. Do not let this pandemic compromise your chances of a better and healthier life.
DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is in no way offering a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.