COVID-19 infection rates remain low for dentists

More than a year after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, dentists continue to have a lower infection rate than other frontline health professionals, such as nurses and doctors , according to a study published online before the June issue of the Journal. from the American Dental Association. The study, “COVID19 among dentists in the United States and control of associated infections: a six-month longitudinal study,” is based on data collected from June 9 to November 13, 2020.

According to the study, based on the number of dentists with confirmed or probable COVID-19 infections over more than six months, the cumulative infection rate for U.S. dentists is 2.6%. The monthly incidence rate ranged from 0.2% to 1.1% per month. For comparison, in June 2020, the cumulative prevalence rate of COVID-19 for other U.S. healthcare professionals ranged from 3.3% (Chicago-based hospital physicians) to 35.3% (medical departments of emergency services based in the United States).

“We are pleased to see that dentists have demonstrated a continued low monthly incidence of the disease despite several peaks in regional and national COVID-19 rates during the study period,” said Marcelo Araujo, director general of the American Dental Association (ADA) Science and Research Institute, DDS, MS, Ph.D., lead author of the report.

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Dr Araujo added, “This study shows high rates of patient pre-appointment screening and appropriate infection control measures throughout the study period, demonstrating that adherence to very strict protocols for improved infection control helps protect themselves and their patients, their dental team. “

In addition to Dr Araujo, other authors of the report include researchers from the Chicago-based ADA Science and Research Institute and Health Policy Institute, as well as Maria L. Geisinger, DDS, MS with the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala. , and Effie Ioannidou, DDS, MDS, with the University of Connecticut in Farmington, Connecticut, and member of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.

This study follows the first full-scale report on incidence rates of COVID-19 among dentists in the United States published in October 2020. The present six-month longitudinal study aimed to: Determine the cumulative prevalence rate of COVID -19 at dentists; calculate the monthly incidence rate for the same population during the study; and assess the level of engagement in specific infection control practices among dentists over a six month period.

The results of this study, as well as the previous study, show that prevalence and incidence rates among dentists continue to be very low compared to the general population and other health professionals.

“This study confirms that the dental care industry is operating safely,” said Chief Economist and Vice President of ADA Health Policy Institute Marko Vujicic, Ph.D. “Nowhere does this point of evidence n ‘is more evident than by the fact that over 90% of the patients surveyed indicate that they have already visited the dentist or will do so soon. ”

The authors plan for future research projects on the barriers and facilitators to wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) according to CDC recommendations, and the levels of protection against COVID-19 provided by different levels of PPE use and infection control procedures.

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