Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged dental professionals to provide appropriate care while using nationally recognized guidelines to minimize disease transmission. The purpose of this study was to investigate the current practices of dental hygienists in Idaho to better understand how their practices have been impacted by COVID-19 in comparison to national guidelines.Methods: Practicing dental hygienists licensed in Idaho were invited to participate in a 23-item web-based survey. Items included demographics, guidelines used, procedures employed in response to COVID-19, barriers encountered implementing protocols, and vaccination status. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. A Chi-square test was used to test for association between demographics and national guidance used and vaccination status (p=.05).Results: Of the 1,200 dental hygienists e-mailed, 185 consented to participate for a response rate of 15.4%. Respondents reported that level 3 or higher filtration masks were worn for every patient (72.9%, n=113) as were gloves (95.5%, n=148) and eye protection with side shields (71.6%, n=111). Most respondents indicated that disposable gowns (68.4%, n=106) and washable gowns (39.4%, n=61) were not available. A majority (56.1%, n=87) indicated they had been vaccinated. Respondents who had been employed for >15 years were more likely to have been vaccinated (χ2 = 15.25, df = 1, p = 0.000) and were more likely to ask their patients if they had received the COVID-19 vaccine (χ2 = 7.99, df = 1, p=0.005).Conclusion: Infection control practices following national guidance were inconsistent among dental hygienists in Idaho. Further research focusing on factors influencing adherence to national guidance for COVID-19 is needed.
Keywords: COVID-19; dental hygienists; infection control practices; occupational health; pandemic; vaccination.
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