“Flying” Saliva During Dental Cleaning is Not a Source of Transmission

Practices like ours temporarily closed our doors back in March 2020 when the World Health Organization initially recommended that all dental practices closed for anything but emergency services. At the time, there was fear that aerosols produced, especially during cleanings, could transmit infection. A new study dispels this misconception.

In an Ohio State College of Dentistry study recently published in May in the Journal of Dental Research, researchers concluded that “getting your teeth cleaned does not increase your risk for COVID-19 infection any more than drinking a glass of water from the dentist’s office does.”

Researchers studying saliva collected samples from surfaces reached by aerosols, comparing samples of saliva and irrigants (the cleaning solutions used to flush out the mouth) before procedures and then after from face shields, the patient’s bib and areas six feet away from the chair. They determined that while SARS-CoV-2 virus was identified in the saliva of 19 of the 28 patients studied, it was not detectable in the aerosols in any of the cases.

As study lead author Dr. Purnima Kumar noted: “Irrigant dilutes saliva by an estimated 20-to 200-fold, and the research is validated by a 2020 study that reported a less than 1% COVID-19 positivity rate among dentists.”

At the Forefront of Infection Control

South Florida Center for Periodontics and Implant Dentistry have always maintained precise infection control protocols, so the risk of spreading infection has always been low. We implemented even more stringent protocol that safely carried us through the pandemic. You can read about how we went “above and beyond” to enhance our infection control process to ensure that our patients and staff have been kept safe. And always keep in mind that better oral health supports our overall health, including our ability to fight infection.