A new study out of Ohio State University suggests that the risk of getting COVID-19 at the dentist is very low. The researchers “analyzed the genetic makeup of organisms found in air samples during a range of dental procedures,” finding that “water solution from irrigation tools – not saliva – was the main source of any bacteria or viruses in the spatter and spurts from patients’ mouths.” The findings were published in the Journal of Dental Research.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 5/17, Clanton) reports that the university wrote, “Even when low levels of the SARS-CoV-2 virus were detected in the saliva of asymptomatic patients, the aerosols generated during their procedures showed no signs of the coronavirus. In essence, from a microbial standpoint, the contents of the spray mirrored what was in the office environment.” The study found that salivary bacteria made of only 0.1-1.2% of the bacteria found in aerosols made during dental procedures. This suggests the risk of getting COVID at the dentist is low.
The irrigation tools are what sprays fluid on the tooth or bone that is being worked on to keep it cool. One source in the study was a sterilized saline (salty water) solution used while placing a dental implant. Since this solution is sterilized before being used, it is a safe assumption that the bacteria present was not alive (can’t infect you).
Microscopic life is everywhere, no matter how much we clean. Some are harmless, some are helpful, and others can be harmful. It’s all about doing all we can to keep dangerous microbes from being spread. This study shows that very little of the microscopic material in dental aerosols are from saliva, they are from the same liquids that have always been present during dental procedures, which are generally either sterilized solutions, antibacterial solutions like mouthwash, or tap water. So, in that sense, going to the dentist is no more dangerous than a drink of tap water.
Research on this issue is of course ongoing, and we are constantly diligent at AdVance Dental in doing everything we can to keep everyone safe. But this new data is exciting since it suggests the risk of getting COVID at the dentist is very low.
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