Occupational risk of dentists examined in new study
The widespread availability of vaccines in developed nations has significantly changed the risk of dentists contracting Covid-19 in a workplace setting. Prior to this, however, dentists and other workers in occupations that typically involve close contact were widely believed to be at a relatively high risk of developing Covid-19. A new study out of Norway has sought to examine this idea further by comparing how this risk differed across occupations between the country’s two Covid-19 waves in 2020.
The study was conducted by researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, who used data from an emergency preparedness register for Covid-19 to form an observational study covering the entire Norwegian population between February 26 and December 18, 2020. The occupational groups chosen were: health (including dentists); teaching; retail; tourism and travel; catering; and, recreation and beauty. They were selected based on their high likelihood of direct, close contact with other people.
The researchers estimated and then compared the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases per 1,000 employed individuals for each of the country’s two Covid-19 waves — the first spanning from February 26 to July 17 and the second from July 18 to December 18. In total, just over 3.5 million Norwegian residents of working age were studied.
According to the study’s findings, during the first wave, dentists, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals were approximately 2-3.5 times more likely to develop Covid-19 than all other Norwegians of working age. During the second wave, however, whereas doctors were moderately more likely to test positive for Covid-19, dentists were found to be no more likely to contract the virus than the average employed individual.