A new study conducted at Ohio’s State University disperses the misapprehension surrounding the safety of dental procedures during the covid-19 pandemic. SAR-Cov-2 is mainly spread by respiratory droplets; the critical entry points for the virus are the nose and the mouth. Dental procedures are known to produce aerosols in abundance, which led to the innate fear that this aerosol, which comprises saliva, could make the dental office a hotspot of covid-19 transmission. The aerosols are mainly released during dental restorative and cleaning procedures due to high-speed dental drills and ultrasonic scalers.
This led to a growing concern among the general population about the safety of dental procedures during the pandemic.
These concerns also kept many people in dire need of emergency dental care from getting it. This ended up creating severe dental problems and other infections. Upon realizing this problem, Ohio state’s college of dentistry researchers set out to determine if there is indeed any truth to these rumours.
In the past, several kinds of research concluded that the aerosol produced during dental procedures mainly land on the dental operator’s face, the patient’s chest and surrounding equipment. It was also seen that the aerosol could travel to a distance of 11 feet in the dental office. However, these studies took the help of petri dishes placed in different locations and found that only bacteria existed. Furthermore, they were not able to conclusively identify the bacteria or determine where they were coming from. This led to the presumption that saliva is the primary component and source of infection in the aerosol.
Dr. Purnima Kumar, a periodontologist and lead author of the study conducted at Ohio State’s University, was set to carry out a study to determine whether saliva is the main source of the spray in the dental office. The study included 28 participants who were scheduled to receive dental implants and restorative procedures. Few of these participants also had low levels of SARS-Cov-2 present. Samples of the irrigating dental solution, each patient’s saliva before and 30 minutes after the procedure was collected. Apart from this, the aerosol droplets from the provider’s face shield, the patient’s protective bib and an area 6 feet away from the dental chair were tested. These samples were made to go through genomic sequencing to analyze the genetic make of the microbes. It was seen that the aerosol mainly comprised of the irrigant solution and not the saliva as it was thought before. Besides, the principal source of microbes was the irrigant solution and not the saliva. The genetic makeup of these organisms showed that these microbes were no different than the ones commonly found in the dental office or the environment. For patients in whom SARS-CoV-2 was detected in the saliva, the aerosol produced showed no signs of the virus. Dr. Kumar further said that getting a dental procedure during the pandemic was no more dangerous than drinking a glass of water in the dental office.
These findings come as a relief from dental practitioners as well as patients seeking dental treatments. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a growing concern over the safety of dental procedures. It was thought to be deadly for the dental providers and the patient, claiming the dental chair as a hotspot for coronavirus transmission. However, the study conducted at Ohio State’s College of Dentistry successfully debunked these myths and concluded that dental procedures are safe during the pandemic.
Furthermore, it has been seen through various studies that a person’s oral hygiene and health can influence the progression of covid-19 infection. We all know the importance of oral hygiene, but it has been seen that practicing proper oral hygiene during the pandemic is more valuable than ever. People with poor oral health have been seen to have more prolonged recovery periods with higher chances of complications. On the other hand, people who practise regular oral hygiene and have good oral health have a faster recovery and lower complication rates. This proves the importance of maintaining good oral health and periodic dental evaluations during the pandemic. Good oral health has long been associated with overall health, which is true even in this pandemic.
Ensure you are brushing twice a day, flossing and using mouthwash to maintain your health. Apart from this, you must schedule regular dental checkups with us and get the treatment needed to maintain optimum oral health and prevent chances of getting any infections.
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.