Dentistry Researchers to Investigate COVID-19 Incidence Rate among Dentists

Drs. Paul Allison and Sreenath Madathil will conduct a long term study of the COVID-19 incidence rates among dentists, funded by the CIHR.

Nine McGill University-led projects are among the 139 selected for funding through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)’s COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity, including Drs. Paul Allison and Sreenath Madathil's long term study of the COVID-19 incidence rates among dentists.

The purpose of this study, entitled "COVID-19 incidence rates among Canadian dentists as they return to work: a cohort study," is to estimate the incidence rate of COVID-19 among dentists and its risk associated with the use of aerosol-generating procedures (AGP) and N95 masks through the phased reopening of dental care services across different jurisdictions in Canada.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in Canada, in March 2020, dental regulatory authorities (DRAs) in provinces and territories across Canada obliged dentists to close their offices to routine care and provide emergency care only. The guidelines for dentists on the use of personal protective equipment or high-risk procedures (e.g., aerosol-generating procedures; AGPs), during the pandemic, vary between jurisdictions. Recently, some provinces have started allowing dentists to reopen their offices. However, guidelines on infection control, treatment and other procedures as dentists return to work have minimal evidence to support them. The overarching goal of this project is to estimate the incidence rate of COVID-19 among dentists and its risk associated with AGPs and N95 masks during the reopening phase of dental care services across jurisdictions in Canada. The researchers propose a prospective cohort study of dentists during the reopening phase of dental services in Canada. An online questionnaire, adopted from WHO Unity Study protocols for assessment of COVID-19 risk among healthcare workers, will be used to collect information on socio-demographics, details of dental care provided to patients in the previous week, as well as symptoms related to COVID-19 and viral status (e.g., COVID-19 positive test). Saliva samples for detecting COVID-19 cases will also be collected at baseline and every four weeks. Participants will be followed on their viral status, clinical activities and COVID-19 status every two weeks post-baseline for a period of 12 months. Statistical analysis of the collected data will allow for the estimations of the incidence and prevalence of COVID-19 cases among Canadian dentists, and to identify the risk associated with AGPs and N95 masks. The results of this study will help the DRAs to monitor disease occurrence among dentists as they return to work and in developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and, as a result, prevent further spread of COVID-19.

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