Is the Dentist's Office Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Learn how dentists are keeping patients safe during the pandemic and why it may be relatively less risky than other healthcare settings.

Is the Dentist's Office Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Leaving your home exposes you to germs, but healthcare workers must adhere to safety protocols. Your dentist and their staff must wash their hands and sterilize tools, and some equipment and needles are never reused. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, including regular visits to the dentist. Your dentist's office may also ask you to limit the number of people you bring to the office.

This could mean leaving your children at home or allowing older children to go to the office alone while their parents wait outside during the appointment. At the start of the pandemic, many states asked dental offices to close or limit services to emergency care. This is no longer considered an ideal response, even in areas with high rates of COVID infection. Dental care is essential for staying healthy, and people were uncertain about what illnesses they or their loved ones could get in a doctor's or dentist's office during an exam.

If you start feeling unwell with COVID-19 symptoms within two days of your appointment, call the dental office, even if you have been vaccinated. If your state or local government or your dentist's office requires people to wear masks in public, make sure you wear one for your appointment or one will be provided. COVID-19 is highly contagious and has infected more than five million people in the United States, but with proper safety precautions, the risk of transmission can be greatly reduced. The dental staff can ask you about your temperature or inquire about symptoms that could indicate a COVID-19 infection.

As new cases began to decline and we learned more about how the virus spreads, many dentists have made their dental offices available without fear of infection. Healthcare personnel are at increased risk of infection according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of COVID-19, so providing intensive care to those who are or might be infected with the virus helps keep the dental team and their patients safe as possible. The organization recently released a study that reports that less than 1 percent of dentists nationwide have been found to be positive for COVID-19, which is far less than that of other health professionals. Therefore, while it's worth being careful, the dentist's office may be relatively less risky during this pandemic. One way is to limit the number of people who come to the clinic at any given time to practice social distancing in dental offices and waiting rooms.

Studies show that rates of COVID-19 infection among dentists are very low and are still lower than those of other healthcare workers. The staff will thoroughly clean the areas where you have been using disinfectants that are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19 before seeing the next patient.