A new study has revealed interesting facts about dental hygienists during the pandemic situation. It was evident from numbers that dental hygienists were less impacted by Covid infection when compared to others. However, the rate of vaccine acceptance was also more in this category, and this is also one of the contributing factors for low levels of infection.
Research Reveals Dental Hygienists Had Lower Covid Infection Rates
The American Dental Association conducted the study to analyze the impact of the pandemic on dental hygienists. Interestingly, most dental hygienists have not returned to work after the pandemic due to various reasons, and this has resulted in staff shortages across the country during the pandemic situation.
While the general population had a cumulative prevalence of more than 11% for the Covid infection, dental hygienists had a lower number, around 8%. Interestingly, more than 75% of dental hygienists across the US have been fully vaccinated, and this is higher when compared to the vaccination rate among the general public.
Earlier, many experts thought that dental hygienists were at higher risk for covid infection as they deal with a lot of patients closely during examination and treatment of dental problems. However, the rate of infection has been low among this community, and experts attribute this to the good application of PPE kits and higher vaccination rates among dental hygienists.
Many dental hygienists had left jobs during the peak of the pandemic situation due to various concerns about contracting the infection. Nearly half of them are yet to return to work, resulting in staff shortages across the country. Surprisingly, more than 3000 dental hygienists have permanently left the profession during the pandemic.
In the early stages of the pandemic, there was a massive shortage of professional-grade protection equipment across the country. As protection equipment like PPE was not used by doctors on a regular basis, there was not enough supply during the pandemic. However, the situation improved later, and the government supplied PPE kits and professional-grade masks to all medical professionals.
This was also one of the main reasons for many dental professionals to quit their jobs, and most of it happened during the early stages of the pandemic. It is interesting o note that even vaccines were not available at that moment, and the doctors were at high risk of catching the infection.
There are many reasons for this trend, and one of the biggest reasons is that many patients did not visit dentists during the pandemic. As the risk of contracting covid infection was very high during a dental examination, many patients chose to avoid dental visits unless it was an emergency. Due to this reason, many dental clinics had a very low volume of patients for many months. Unable to bear the expenses, many doctors have quit the profession in recent months.
However, there was some improvement in patient volume after the Omicron wave subsided across the country. Even at this stage, many doctors in this profession have not returned to work. The doctors are facing several challenges at this stage, and the health system should address the issues of these professionals at the earliest to avoid staff shortage in the long run.
Experts feel that protective gear like PPE should be continued even at this stage as it helps to avoid infection to a large extent. The ADA authorities said that they are working on policy changes and other methods to improve the work-life of these dental professionals across the country. The contribution of this community has been huge during the pandemic, and they can play an important role in the long run to avoid various infections among the public.