“Should I or Can I go for dental treatments during the covid-19 pandemic?” This has been a frequently asked question since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. The SARS-Cov-2 is spread by respiratory droplets, and the main entry points for the virus are the nose and the mouth.
Dental treatments involve the use of high-speed dental drills, ultrasonic scalers and irrigation tools that are known to produce aerosols in abundance. This aerosol, mainly released during dental cleanings and restorative procedures, was presumed to be a saliva spray. This led to the belief that dental offices and chairs are covid-19 transmission location and increased the chances of infection for the dental providers and the patients.
In past researches have been conducted to analyze the content of the aerosol and its spread. It was seen that aerosol mainly landed on the dental provider’s face, the patient’s neck drape and the equipment, including the chair. Aerosol particles were also previously thought to travel to a distance of 11 feet in the dental clinic.
Therefore, there was a growing concern over dental offices becoming a covid infection spreader. The saliva was considered the deadliest culprit. Owing to these, many dental offices were kept closed during the beginning and patients who needed emergency dental treatment had no access to it.
Looking at the situation, Dr. Purnima Kumar, a periodontologist, carried out a study to determine whether saliva was indeed the main source of the aerosol and the culprit as it was thought previously.
The study conducted at Ohio State’s College of Dentistry enrolled 28 patients for this study who were meant to receive dental implants and other dental restorative procedures. Some of these patients also showed a low-level presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Sample of patient’s saliva before and 30 minutes post-procedure was taken. Apart from this, samples from the dental chair, equipment, aerosol droplets from the provider’s face shield, patient’s chest, and an area 6 feet away from the chair were also collected.
These samples were tested for the microbes present in them through genomic sequencing. It was found out that the bacteria present in these samples were of a similar genetic makeup as found generally in the dental office, environment or even water. Furthermore, even the aerosol samples collected after treating patients with low levels of SARS-CoV-2 showed no presence of the virus in the aerosol generated. It was seen that getting dental treatments during the pandemic is no riskier than it was before, and the risk involved is as much as drinking water from the dentist’s office.
These findings come as a sigh of relief not only for patients seeking dental treatments but also for dentists and allied branches. Using an antiseptic mouth rinse before a dental procedure also reduces the viral load in the mouth and is seen to inactivate the virus. This further reduces the chance of infectivity, if any.
Apart from this, there are many studies and evidence-based research that show the importance of oral health during the pandemic. People who have high plaque and tartar deposits in the mouth tend to be more susceptible to covid-19. It is also seen that people with poor oral health take much longer to recover, experience more severe symptoms and have a high complication rate. On the contrary, people which good oral health and those who practiced good oral hygiene were at a much lower risk of catching the virus. Moreover, people with good oral hygiene practices were seen to recover faster with minimum complications.
This newfound information is vital in helping us fight this pandemic and make better health choices. Many people in need of dental cleaning or other dental procedures can now freely go to the clinic to get the treatment they need. This study eradicates the rumours and misconceptions surrounding dental care.
It can now be said with confidence that dental treatments are as safe as it gets, even during the pandemic. You no longer have to live in pain and suffer because of your dental conditions. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to stay at the top of your oral health. If you have tartar deposits going for ultrasonic scaling will not only protect your gums and teeth but also keep you safe from the virus. If you have any more questions or would like to know about our dental services, contact us, and our team of excellent dental professionals will be there for 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.