BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A national report co-written by a UAB dentist found that less than one percent of U.S. dentists were COVID-19 positive.
The data, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, was collected in June 2020 during the height of COVID-19 infection spread in the United States. The study also found that 99.7 percent of dentists were using enhanced infection control and prevention measures.
During the initial pandemic period, experts thought dentists might be among one of the highest-risk professionals due to proximity with patients and aerosol-generating dental procedures.
The new study found dentists' prevention measures and personal protective equipment — as well as the enhanced safety measures — may have minimized the COVID risk for dentists, dental staff and patients.
“The extremely low infection rate supports the effectiveness of the recommendations from the American Dental Association, CDC and other agencies in helping to keep the dental team and their patients as safe as possible,” said Mia Geisinger, DDS, M.S., professor of periodontology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry and a co-author of the report. “The bottom line is that the dental profession has taken this issue extremely seriously, and it shows. This means that what dentists are doing — heightened infection control and increased attention to patient and dental team safety — is working.”
The report reviewed cases of nearly 2,200 dentists, finding that 82 percent of dentists were asymptomatic for one month prior to the survey and 16.6 percent got tested for COVID-19. Among all dentists, less than 1 percent received a positive test or were given a probable COVID-19 diagnosis by a physician.