Photo of dentist.

COVID Alert: It’s Safe to Go Back to the Dentist

In All Health Watch, Coronavirus, Featured Article

When the pandemic started, dentist offices were thought to be among the most dangerous places you could go. Sitting with your mouth open for an extended time seemed about as risky you could get.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) deemed dental cleanings as “very high risk” for coronavirus transmission. The agency warned that saliva could become airborne during procedures, spreading COVID-19.[1]

But Ohio State University researchers recently found that dental offices are actually quite safe. They analyzed aerosol and surface samples from dental clinics.

“No Signs of the Coronavirus” at Dental Offices

The scientists found there were “no signs of the coronavirus.” [2]

From a microbial standpoint, the contents of the air and surfaces mirrored what was in the watery solution from irrigation tools, not the germs that were in patients’ saliva.

The study indicates that the water that dentists use to rinse your mouth sprays into the air, but your saliva and any germs it may carry stay in your mouth.

Professor Purnima Kumar led the study. “Getting your teeth cleaned does not increase your risk for COVID-19 infection any more than drinking a glass of water from the dentist’s office does,” she said.

The study was published in the Journal of Dental Research.[3]

Professor Kumar and her colleagues found that even when someone with a COVID infection had dental procedures, the aerosols produced showed no trace of the virus.

If COVID was readily spread in dental offices, you’d think that dentists would be catching the virus at a high rate. But one survey found that less than 1% of dentists have tested positive. That’s far below the estimated 10% infection rate among the U.S. general population.[4]

The bottom line?

If you’ve been putting off dental exams and cleanings during the pandemic, the new findings show that it’s safe to go back.

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