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COVID-19 infection rates and mitigation strategies in orthodontic practices

BMC Oral Health. 2023 Jan 7;23(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s12903-022-02705-1.


BACKGROUND: COVID-19 has impacted and increased risks for all populations, including orthodontic patients and providers. It also changes the practice management and infection control landscape in the practices. This study aimed to investigate the COVID-19 infection and vaccination status of orthodontic providers and mitigation approaches in orthodontic practices in the United States during 2021.

METHODS: A validated 50-question research electronic data capture (REDCap) browser-based questionnaire was distributed to 12,393 orthodontists and pediatric dentists who reported actively providing orthodontic treatment. Questions were designed to collect demographic data of respondents, evaluate the COVID-19 mitigation approaches, and evaluate the history of COVID-19 infection and vaccination status of the orthodontic providers. Associations of demographic and the COVID-19 mitigation approaches were assessed using chi-square tests at the significance level of 0.05.

RESULTS: Four hundred fifty-seven returned the survey (response rate 3.69%) for analysis. Most respondents were vaccinated, and increased infection control measures in response to the pandemic. Half of the respondents practiced teledentistry and switched to digital impression systems. Two-thirds reported difficulties in attaining PPEs due to the increased cost and scarcity of PPEs. About 6% of respondents reported a history of COVID-19 infection, and 68.9% of their staff had COVID-19 infection. Statistically significant associations were found between increased practice experience with difficulties in acquiring PPE (p = .010). There were no significant associations between races of respondents, geographic location, and years of practicing when cross-tabulated with vaccination status or COVID-19 infection rate (p > .05).

CONCLUSION: Increased infection control strategies were employed in almost all orthodontic practices in addition to existing universal precaution. Most of the orthodontic providers and their staff members were vaccinated. While staff’s infection rates were an issue, doctors’ infection rates remained low.

PMID:36611143 | DOI:10.1186/s12903-022-02705-1

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