Application of recommended preventive measures against COVID-19 could help mitigate the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection during dental practice: Results from a follow-up survey of French dentists

PLoS One. 2021 Dec 22;16(12):e0261439. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0261439. eCollection 2021.

Abstract

Background: During the first-wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, dentists were considered at high-risk of infection. In France, to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2, a nationwide lockdown was enforced, during which dentists suspended their routine clinical activities, working solely on dental emergencies. This measure has had an indisputable mitigating effect on the pandemic. To continue protecting dentists after suspension of nationwide lockdown, implementation of preventive measures was recommended, including adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and room aeration between patients. No study has explored whether implementation of such preventive measures since the end of the first-wave has had an impact on the contamination of dentists.

Methods: An online survey was conducted within a French dentist population between July and September 2020. To explore risk factors associated with COVID-19, univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed.

Results: The results showed that COVID-19 prevalence among the 3497 respondents was 3.6%. Wearing surgical masks during non-aerosol generating procedures was a risk factor of COVID-19, whereas reducing the number of patients was a protective factor.

Conclusions: Considering the similar COVID-19 prevalence between dentists and the general population, such data suggest that dentists are not overexposed in their work environment when adequate preventive measures are applied.

Impact: Dentists should wear specific PPE (FFP2, FFP3 or (K)N95 masks) including during non-aerosol generating procedures and reduce the number of patients to allow proper implementation of disinfection and aeration procedures. Considering the similarities between COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections, such preventive measures may also be of interest to limit emerging variants spread as well as seasonal viral outbreaks.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Communicable Disease Control / trends
  • Dentists / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • France / epidemiology
  • Guideline Adherence / trends*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Personal Protective Equipment / trends*
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.