COVID-19 transmission risk and protective protocols in dentistry: a systematic review

BMC Oral Health. 2020 Oct 8;20(1):275. doi: 10.1186/s12903-020-01270-9.


Background: Among several potential transmission sources in the spreading of the COVID-19, dental services have received a high volume of attention. Several reports, papers, guidelines, and suggestions have been released on how this infection could be transmitted through dental services and what should be done. This study aimed to review the guidelines in order to develop a practical feasibility protocol for the re-opening of dental clinics and the reorientation of dental services.

Methods: This study systematically reviewed the published literature and the guidelines of international health care institutions on dentistry and COVID-19. We searched Pubmed, Web of Science, and SCOPUS electronic databases using MESH terms. The recommendations identified were tested with a convenience sample of experienced practitioners, and a practical step-by-step protocol is presented in this paper.

Results: To the date this paper was drafted, 38 articles were found, of which 9 satisfied our inclusion criteria. As all the nine studies were proposed in a general consensus, any elective non-emergency dental care for patients with suspected or known COVID-19 should be postponed for at least 2 weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Only urgent treatment of dental diseases can be performed during the COVID-19 outbreak taking into consideration pharmacological management as the first line and contagion-reduced minimally invasive emergency treatment as the secondary and final management.

Conclusions: While the currently available evidence has not demonstrated a clear and direct relationship between dental treatment or surgery and the possibility of the transmission of COVID-19, there is clearly the potential for transmission. Therefore, following the protective protocols in the COVID-19 crisis is of utmost importance in a dental setting.

Keywords: COVID-19; Dental practice management; Dental public health; Dentistry; Infection control; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Dentistry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • SARS-CoV-2