New study reports low COVID-19 infection rates among Canadian Dentists

Faculty of Dentistry Researcher, Dr. Sreenath Madathil, recently published a new prospective cohort study investigating the incidence of COVID-19 cases among Canadian dentists. The study followed a cohort of 644 dentists from across Canada for a six-month period and found that the infection rate was lower among Canadian dentists than it was in the general Canadian population during the same period.

To assess the risk of Canadian dentists, participants were asked to complete an online questionnaire, adopted from the WHO Unity Study protocol for assessment of COVID-19 risk among healthcare workers, ever four weeks. Saliva samples were also taken from 224 participants to test for SARS-CoV-2 specific RNA.

During the study period six participants reported COVID-19 infections, giving an incident rate of 5.10 per 100,000 person-days. It was therefore estimated that the incidence proportion was 1084 per 100,000 dentists, while it was 1864 per 100,000 persons in the Canadian population.

The researchers suggest lower rate of infection among Canadian dentists compared to the general population may be a reflection of an array of interacting factors such as:

  • Pre-procedure screening of patients
  • Adherence to rigorous infection prevention and control protocols
  • Public health measures
  • Increased awareness and precautionary behaviour of dentists in general, outside their work-place

Of the 644 participating dentists the average age was 47 years old (age ranges from 24 to 79 years old), 56.4% of those surveyed were female and 90.8% were general practitioners. 57% served a metropolitan or urban community and only a minority of participants provided dental care for patients who were confirmed cases or suspicious of having COVID-19.

Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, the study is an important tool is assessing the risks associated with giving and receiving dental care for the Canadian population. Although the infections rates were low, it is important to continue to collect disease surveillance data.

Madathil S, Siqueira WL, Marin LM, Sanaulla FB, Faraj N, Quiñonez CR, et al. The incidence of COVID-19 among dentists practicing in the community in Canada: A prospective cohort study over a six-month period. The Journal of the American Dental Association. J Am Dent Assoc; 2021; DOI:


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