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A study funded by the National Institutes of Health, “SARS-CoV-2 infection of the oral cavity and saliva,” was published in Nature Medicine on March 25th. While the news may not be totally surprising for dental professionals, it does demand the attention of dentists and allied dental professionals everywhere.

It’s been an open question whether the oral cavity, including saliva, is merely a reservoir for virus particles or whether the mucosa and/or salivary glands could themselves become infected. Obtaining sample tissues during autopsy and from live individuals, the researchers found that the major and minor salivary glands, and the oral mucosa, were infected in more than half (57%) of cases and in themselves posed risk of transmitting the disease. 

The saliva viral load correlated with oral Covid-19 symptoms such as loss of taste. The study also mentions the possibility that inhaling virus particles from the oral cavity or swallowing infected saliva could serve as infection pathways to the lungs or the gastrointestinal tract.

How To Use These Findings

As vaccination levels rise, there’s a growing trend of individuals becoming less careful about wearing masks in public. There’s already considerable pushback in some areas against any mask restrictions.

Posting these research findings in your practice and on your website, as well as sending them to your existing patient base, can go a long way to reducing “mask resistance” among the unconvinced.

The findings also emphasize the urgency and importance of maintaining strict hygiene and prevention protocols within the practice itself. At this point, it’s not known how thoroughly the new and evolving variants can infect the oral cavity nor how easily the virus can be transmitted in dental practice settings.

This is news that your patients and prospects need to know, and you’re doing them a great service by sharing it widely.


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.

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