Researchers from Ohio State University recently conducted a study that eliminates the misconception and concerns surrounding the safety of dental offices and treatments during the covid-19 pandemic. The coronavirus is known to spread predominantly by respiratory droplets. It is also known that the main entry points for the virus are the nose and the mouth. Dental procedures use high-powered dental drills and ultrasonic scalers, which are known to produce aerosols in abundance. This led to a generalized fear that this aerosol which was thought mainly to contain saliva, could make the dental office a prime area of covid-19 transmission.
This gave rise to the question – Is it safe to go for a dental appointment amidst the pandemic?
These fears and questions prevented many people, including those in need of urgent dental care, from getting the oral care they needed. Moreover, even dental providers were apprehensive about the transmission. Many dental clinics remained close as saliva (thought to be the main aerosol component) was considered extremely dangerous at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Researchers from Ohio State’s College of Dentistry realized this problem and conducted a study to determine if saliva is the main aerosol component. This study aimed to clarify whether dental treatments during the pandemic are safe.
Several types of research in the past have shown that the aerosol produced during dental procedures mainly land on the dentist’s or dental operator’s face, patients chest and surrounding equipment, including the dental chair. This led to the fear of dental chairs being covid-19 hotspots. The aerosol produced during the dental procedure could travel to a distance of 11 feet. However, these studies took place in a time where technology was not as advanced as today. These studies also found that the aerosol consisted of bacteria but could not conclusively identify the bacteria or from where they came. This led to the belief that the main component and source of infection in the aerosol was saliva flying around.
The study to determine the main component of dental aerosol in Ohio State University involved 28 participants scheduled to receive dental implants and restorative procedures. Some patients also had low but detectable levels of SARS-Cov-2. Sample of the irrigating dental solution used and patient’s saliva before and 30 minutes after the procedure was taken. The aerosol droplets from the dental provider’s face shield, patient protective drape, and area 6 feet away from the dental chair were also collected as samples.
The scientists used genomic sequencing to analyze the genetic makeup of the microbes found in the collected sample. It was concluded that the aerosol mainly comprised of the irrigant solution and not the saliva. Moreover, the genetic makeup of the microbes found was no different than the ones commonly found in the dental office or the environment. The aerosol produced after operating on a patient with SARS-CoV-2 also showed no traces of the virus.
This proves that dental offices and dental procedures do not increase the chances of catching covid-19. These findings were crucial to allow dental practitioners to provide dental services and give comfort to patients seeking dental help.
The researchers at Ohio State’s College of Dentistry successfully resolved these misapprehensions and concluded that dental procedures are indeed safe during the pandemic.
Moreover, with new information coming out regularly and many studies showing the importance of oral health care, it was imperative to clear these doubts. Studies show that a person’s oral hygiene practices and oral health can influence the progression of covid-19 infection. People with poor oral health and relaxed attitudes towards oral hygiene have more chances of catching the virus, have more extended recovery periods and are at a higher risk of suffering from complications of the disease. On the other hand, people who are diligent about their oral hygiene and have good oral health are shown to have a faster recovery and lower complication rates. Therefore, sustaining good oral health and scheduling regular dental checkups with us are of prime importance.
Brush twice a day, floss regularly and use a mouthwash to maintain your oral and overall health.
You can also schedule an appointment with us for your regular dental checkups or if you think you might need a dental procedure done. Suppose you have any questions or want to know more about our services, you can contact us, and our dental team will be there to assist you.
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.