Dental Care and Oral Health Under the Cloud of COVID-19: EIOH Experts Weigh In
JDR Clinical & Translational Research has published an invited commentary by researchers at the University of Rochester, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, N.Y., USA on dental care and the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including the provision of dental care and protecting patients and staff during the pandemic. The authors are Dr. YanFang Ren, Dr. Linda Rasubala, Dr. Hans Malmstrom, and Dr. Eli Eliav.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant gaps in the collective response of global healthcare systems to a public health emergency,” said JDR Clinical & Translational Research Editor-in-Chief Jocelyne Feine. “Though dentistry is a relatively small part in the COVID-19 response, dental professionals and organizations should take this opportunity to assess the role of dental care professionals in a global public health emergency.”
The authors reviewed current evidence related to the impact of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 on dental care and oral health with the aim to help dental professionals better understand the risks of disease transmission in dental settings, strengthen protection against nosocomial infections and identify areas of COVID-19 related oral health research.
Important issues related to dental care and oral health include:
- SARS-CoV-2 is most frequently transmitted from human to human through direct contact and respiratory droplets and indirect contacts with fomites. Airborne transmission is also likely, but concrete confirmatory evidence is lacking. Both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic patients may be major sources of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
- Evidence supports that oral mucosa is an initial site of entry for SARS-CoV-2 and that oral symptoms, including loss of taste and smell and dry mouth, might be early symptoms of COVID-19, although the mechanism and prognosis of oral symptoms of COVID-19 are not clear.
- Rapid testing for infectious diseases in dental offices using saliva samples may be valuable in the early identification of infected patients and in disease progress assessment.
- Dental clinics and dental professionals are not well prepared to perform aerosol generating procedures at the time of an infectious respiratory disease pandemic as they are not routinely fitted for the N95 respirators required for these procedures.
- Increase research efforts in aerosol control in dental offices, including improving engineering control in dental office design. It may be time to consider negative pressure dental operatories.
- Finally, oral health researchers may play a more active role in early identification and diagnosis of the disease through deciphering the mechanisms of dry mouth and loss of taste in COVID-19 patients.
About the JDR Clinical and Translational Research
The JDR Clinical & Translational Research is a quarterly publication. This peer-reviewed journal is dedicated to publishing original dental, oral and craniofacial research at the interface between discovery science and clinical application with the translation of research into healthcare delivery systems at the individual patient, clinical practice and community levels. The JDR CTR has been accepted for inclusion in MEDLINE.
International Association for Dental Research
The International Association for Dental Research (IADR) is a nonprofit organization with over 10,000 individual members worldwide, with a Mission to drive dental, oral and craniofacial research to advance health and well-being worldwide. To learn more, visit www.iadr.org. The American Association for Dental Research (AADR) is the largest Division of IADR with 3,100 members in the United States. To learn more, visit www.iadr.org/aadr.