Despite myriad concerns about the safety of keeping annual, non-emergency dental appointments last March during the first COVID-19 lockdown, it looks like dentists know what they are doing when it comes to limiting the spread of the virus. In fact, according to a survey released by the American Dental Association (ADA) in October 2020, fewer than 1 in 100 dentists nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19. By comparison, healthcare professionals in other areas of care are becoming infected at much higher rates; as of the end of September more than 500,000 health workers had been infected. According to the ADA, the dental sector has such low rates of infection thanks to hygiene practices dentists had in place long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19.
“Dentists are following ADA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, and it’s helping to keep the dental team and their patients safe,” said the ADA’s Science and Research Institute CEO, Marcelo Araujo.
Infectious disease specialist Edgar Sanchez added, “Dentists already do a lot of things that prevent the spread of COVID…The dentist is already wearing a mask, already wearing eye gear, gloves, all those things, so his risk of giving something to [a patient] would be very low.” Sanchez also said the risk of dentists catching something from their patients, while higher than the converse scenario, is also very low.
Dentists have faced the risk of infection for many years, since HIV and hepatitis, for example, can be passed from patient to dentist if the dentist fails to take proper precautions. As a result, dentists have always followed the practice of assuming every patient could be contagious, with the result that very few infections ever spread via dental offices.
In fact, the things that you are most likely to see changed in your dentist’s office when you return for your regular dental appointment have more to do with the waiting room than your actual dental exam. Of course, as always, your dentist will be wearing protective gear, including a face mask and shield (most dentists have considered these standard for years), but the biggest change will likely be that you will await your appointment in your car or in a waiting room devoid of the toys, books, and magazines you used to see there. At Dr. Pat Crawford’s dental practice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, we not only have removed these common-use items but have also instituted a disinfecting regimen for our waiting room to keep our patients safe.
Learn more about how Dr. Pat Crawford is keeping his patients and his staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and make an appointment today by visiting PatCrawfordDDS.com.