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Teeth Cleaning Does Not Increase the Risk of COVID

Since the pandemic began in 2020, people have wondered whether preventative teeth cleanings were worth the perceived risk of contracting COVID-19. In fact, about 200,000 dentist offices around the US closed in March 2020, a move fueled by concerns that aerosols generated during dental procedures could transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Even after dentist offices reopened, many patients suffering from chronic dental diseases and those needing emergency dental care chose not to visit the dentist out of fear of catching this disease. But now, findings from a recent study demonstrate that dental cleanings are not a high risk for contracting COVID. Learn more about how this study busts dental myths so you can reserve your next teeth cleaning appointment with confidence.

How is COVID Spread?

The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads mainly through droplets and tiny respiratory particles called aerosols. When an infected person speaks, sneezes, or coughs, droplets and aerosols exit their nose and mouth. Anyone within six feet may breathe relatively large droplets into their lungs. Then, tiny aerosols can remain suspended for hours, possibly entering the lungs of the next person who enters the room, even hours after the infected person leaves.

Why Teeth Cleaning Doesn’t Increase the Risk of COVID

Since dental procedures are known to produce an abundance of aerosols, it has long been assumed that saliva from a patient getting their teeth cleaned could end up high in the air. In reality, this is not the case.

Researchers conducting the study set out to discover whether aerosol droplets from various dental procedures contained saliva or water from irrigation tools. The study included 28 participants receiving dental implants, restorations, or scaling between May 4 and July 10, 2020. Researchers collected condensate samples that landed on providers’ face shields, patients’ bibs, and surfaces within six feet of the dentist chair.

Microbes from irrigant (the water-based cleaning solution used to flush out the mouth) contributed to about 78 percent of the organisms in the collected samples. Salivary germs were only detected in eight out of the 28 cases. Of those eight cases, saliva accounted for only 0.1 to 1.2 percent of the microbes distributed around the room. Plus, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was identified in 19 patients’ saliva but was undetectable in the aerosol samples.

These findings support the outcomes reported in the 2020 Journal of the American Dental Association, which state that less than 1 percent of COVID-19 positivity rates are linked to dentist offices. The results of the study led principal author Dr. Purnima Kumar to draw this conclusion:

“Getting your teeth cleaned does not increase your risk of COVID-19 infection any more than drinking a glass of water from the dentist’s office does.”

If you’ve been putting off dental care during COVID-19, you can now lay your fears to rest! Get your teeth cleaned and catch up on other dental work at West County Dental. Dr. Spalitto would love to work with you! Call us at (314) 488-2921 or contact us online to reserve your appointment today.