During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there is an important risk of infection in health care workers, including oral health care workers (OHCWs), due to the characteristics of dental practice. In this retrospective study, data pertaining to the 31 OHCWs diagnosed with COVID-19 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, were retrieved and analyzed. Questionnaires were administered to the subjects over the Internet and telephone. Clinical and epidemiological characteristics and information on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) were collected. There were 22 females and 9 males, with a median age of 39 y. Although the severity of most cases of COVID-19 (93.5%) was mild or moderate, 1 case was severe, and another case was critical, resulting in death. Fever was the main first symptom of COVID-19, followed by fatigue and myalgia. Most of the OHCWs routinely used PPE such as medical masks, gloves, caps, and work clothes while performing clinical work. N95 or KN95 masks were rarely available because of the scarcity of PPE during the outbreak. Nineteen OHCWs reported a contact history, among whom 7 worked in a fever clinic, 5 reported contact with dental patients suspected of having COVID-19, and 7 reported contact with family members with COVID-19-related symptoms at least 1 d earlier. Our findings indicated that there were few clusters of COVID-19 in dental settings. Since the outbreak, the Hospital of Stomatology, Wuhan University, has provided emergency dental treatment, and none of their staff were infected while providing dental service, which indicates that comprehensive measures such as the use of advanced PPE and environmental disinfection can prevent cross-infection in dental practice. The analysis of the procedures followed during the emergency treatments indicated that OHCWs preferred to recommend conservative treatment to patients, suggesting that attention should be paid to the psychological impact of COVID-19 on dental practitioners.
Keywords: dental education; dental public health; infection control; infectious disease; patient outcomes; virology.