Risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission following exposure during dental treatment – A national cohort study

Lena Natapov, Dara Schwartz, Hagit Domb Herman, Dan Dekel Markovich, David Yellon, Mutaz Jarallah, Irena Liphshiz, Yehuda Carmeli, Isabella Karakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objectives: Health care workers are at an increased risk of SARS – CoV-2 transmission. The risk of infection for dental teams is assumed to be high, due to work settings, proximity to mouth, exposure to saliva and aerosols. There is a lack of evidence that quantifies the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission for dental patients and staff. Our objective was to assess SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk for dental staff members (DSMs) and patients following exposure in dental clinics during the second wave of the pandemic in Israel. Methods: The study analyzed new positive SARS-CoV-2 cases following exposures in dental clinics from May to September 2020. Two data sources were used: case report forms (CRFs) and epidemiological investigations. CRFs were developed by the MoH and distributed to dental clinics to identify DSMs exposed to SARS-CoV-2 positive patients, and patients exposed to positive DSMs. SARS-CoV-2 status was diagnosed using MoH approved tests in certified laboratories and verified against the national COVID-19 database. Statistical analysis on a non-identified basis was performed. The population incidence and dental setting transmission rates were calculated for the study period with 95% Confidence Intervals. Results: Following 962 reported exposures of DSMs to 508 SARS-CoV-2 positive patients, 7 DSMs were SARS – CoV-2 positive with a 0.7% cumulative transmission rate. Following 507 reported exposures by 43 SARS-CoV-2 positive DSMs, 3 patients were SARS – CoV-2 positive, with a 0.6% cumulative transmission rate. During the study period, the SARS-CoV-2 incidence rate in dental clinics was significantly lower when compared to the population. Conclusions: The transmission rate of SARS-CoV-2 in dental settings was very low for both patients and DSMs. Clinical significance: Our results suggest that routine dental care could be safely provided during the pandemic. Continuous monitoring should be performed due to the emergence of new variants and the vaccination programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103791
JournalJournal of Dentistry
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Dental healthcare
  • Infection control
  • Pandemic
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry

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