COVID-19 – low rate of transmission among dental hygienists

A low rate of COVID-19 infection was found among dental hygienists in the practice setting.A low rate of COVID-19 infection was found among dental hygienists in the practice setting.

This is according to a new study carried out by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the American Dental Association (ADA).

It reveals that 3.1% of dental hygienists have had COVID-19 after analysing data collected in October last year.

This falls in line with the prevalence among dentists in the US – and is far below that of other healthcare professionals.

‘Critically important’

‘We were pleased to collaborate with the ADA on this research. It takes a closer look at the impact of the pandemic on the dental team,’ said ADHA chief, Ann Battrell.

‘The low infection rate shows us we can provide oral health care in a safe manner. This is critically important. The safety of dental hygienists and the patients they serve is of the utmost importance to ADHA and the dental hygiene profession.’

According to the study, more than 99% of respondents reported their primary dental practice had enhanced infection control measures. This included masks, gloves, eye protection and protective coverings.

Delivered safely

‘We know the pandemic has impacted healthcare workers in so many ways,’ said Jo Ann R Gurenlian, a lead author of the research.

‘One quarter of the 8% of dental hygienists who left the workforce were laid off due to early dental office closures. Others were faced with tough decisions around whether or not they could continue to work in a setting that requires direct patient care.

‘It’s a very personal decision. The good news is, the infection rate data shows that dental hygiene care can be delivered safely. And with vaccine availability we may also see more opportunities for dental hygienists to return to practice.’

The study looked at more than 4,700 dental hygienists and found only 149 had been diagnosed with COVID-19. This was also not specific to any particular region.


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