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New research provides insight into COVID-19’s impact on dentistry

According to a recent review article, the consequences of COVID-19 on dental practices will most likely be long term. (Image: antoniodiaz/Shutterstock)

Wed. 22. July 2020


CHAMPIONSGATE, Fla., U.S.: In the interest of public health, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) has published a new research article that examines trends in scientific literature related to the impact of COVID-19 on dentistry. It was found that the literature focused, in particular, on infection control and its implications for future dental practice.

“Thousands of dentists, hygienists, and other dental professionals around the world have just experienced a sudden and unprecedented interruption in the delivery of oral health care. Many of them want to understand the science behind the return to work guidance being offered to them now, as well as potential implications for future dental practices,” said lead author Dr. Carl McMillan, president of the IAOMT, in a press release from the academy.

The review, which involved an examination of more than 90 scientific journal articles, demonstrated that dentistry-specific infection control was the most significant topic presented in the scientific literature. General recommendations to mitigate infectious disease risk, including the use of patient screening and personal protective equipment (PPE), were classified into clear subcategories, such as asking patients about their occupation during screening and donning disposable shoe coverings as a distinct element of PPE. Other points of concern included the preparation of the patient waiting room, the handling of medical waste and the need for air ventilation or air filters.

In the second part of the article, the researchers highlighted several areas in need of resolution, such as defining a dental emergency, clarifying what constitutes adequate respiratory protection from aerosols, contending with the negative impacts of the pandemic on oral health and dental practices, saliva’s role in disease transmission and diagnostic testing, and the imperative need for dentistry’s contribution to the understanding of COVID-19 pathology.

The study authors believe that dentistry will most likely be affected in the long term. “The research implies that the development of more effective engineering controls to mitigate infectious disease risk is imperative to protect the future of public health. Infection control and other changes as a result of COVID-19 could become standards of care for dental practices in the future,” they stated.

“We have an urgency to share the information in our review so that dental practitioners have access to a summary of the available and applicable scientific knowledge regarding dentistry and COVID-19,” added McMillan.

The full review article, titled “COVID-19’s impact on dentistry: Infection control and implications for future dental practices,” can be accessed on the IAOMT’s website.

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