Dentists seem to be at Lower risk to COVID 19 as compared to General Public

COVID-19 has been known to transmitted due to close contact between the infected with non-infected person, this keeps Dentists at greater risk of getting COVID 19 as they are not just in close contact to the patient but are exposed to aerosols or droplets. It has been shown it studies that droplets are the main source of transmission of COVID-19.  But according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Toronto and three other Canadian Universities, Dentists (Surprisingly) are seen to be less likely infected by the Virus when compared to the Normal population. The Study was published in “The Journal of the American Dental Association” this fall and was led by Sreenath Madathil, Assistant Professor of McGill University and was co-authored by eight other researchers, including Glogauer and Professor Carlos Quinonez at University of T’s Faculty of Dentistry.

Michael Glogauer, a professor in U of T’s Faculty of Dentistry and dentist-in-chief at the University Health Network, said “When we started this study in July of 2020, there was so much unknown about COVID-19, there were no vaccines and it was unclear how much of a risk dentist were actually at in terms of this Virus. We wanted to get a good assessment of how much risk there actually was”

The study had a Sample size of 644 licensed Dentists from Canada starting from July 29th 2020 to Feb 12 2021. Oral swabs were collected from the participants and they were asked to answer an online questionnaire to track the incidence in the group. In the test out of the 644, six people caught COVID-19 during the study period. The incidence rate during the same period among Dentist when compared to Common public is as follows –

Dental Practioners: 1084 per 100,000 dentists

General Public: 1864 per 100,000 people

This clearly shows the lower incidence rate among dentists when compared to common public, which differs by a huge margin. After looking at the results – Quinonez said ” I wasn’t really surprised by these results because similar data has also been published in a study of American Dentists, and in Canada we are taking even more precautions“, he added “What is interesting is there appears to be a slightly higher rate of infection in European jurisdictions, so something is different, we just aren’t sure exactly what yet. What we’re trying to determine is what is the actual nature of the risk and why would we see this differentiation in different parts of the world“.

It can be attributed to the fact that Dentists even prior to the COVID-19 outbreak followed strict protocol to prevent transmission of communicable diseases such as Hepatitis, HIV, TB, etc. which are transmitted in a similar fashion. And that Dentists have been fast in adapting to the new norms by upgrading their Personal Protection Equipment and other disinfection protocols along with having more awareness towards infectious diseases and their transmission.

Dr Dhaval has added that “We can use the results as a starting point to determine what measures are actually necessary to continue to ensure the safety of the public, patients, office staff and dentists.“

References:

Medicalxpress – Dentists at lower risk of getting COVID-19