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18 March 2021

Dental hygienists have a low COVID-19 infection rate despite predictions

Author: Katherine Pfaff


Early in the pandemic, dental hygienists were deemed at high risk for contracting COVID-19 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, a study conducted through a partnership between the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) and the American Dental Association (ADA), published in The Journal of Dental Hygiene, reports an infection rate of 3.1% among dental hygienists. Among the 4,776 hygienists who responded to the survey as of October 2020, 149 had been diagnosed at some time with COVID-19. 

The rate of infection is similar to dentists and lower than other healthcare professionals. The relatively low infection rates are credited to ramped up infection control practices in dental offices reported by 99% of respondents, including personal protective equipment, eyewear and gloves during procedures. 

However, despite efforts to mitigate risk, another survey conducted by the same partnership found that since the pandemic began, 8% of dental hygienists were no longer working in their roles. Almost 60% of those hygienists chose to leave their positions due to risk of exposure or to lack of childcare. 

Sources: https://www.adha.org/


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