A new study by a University of Illinois Chicago pediatric dentist has found that 2% of asymptomatic pediatric dental patients test positive for COVID-19
The study tested 921 pediatric patients for COVID-19 when they visited the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) dental clinics for emergency dental procedures from April 1st to August 1st, 2020.
The patients, between the ages of 2-18, were screened over the phone prior to their appointments and were asymptomatic when they arrived. They were then given a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 at their visit.
The overall positivity rate was 2.3%. The rates were statistically higher for Latino patients (3.1%).
Dr Flavia Lamberghini, UIC clinical assistant professor in the department of pediatric dentistry and co-author of the article, said: “The kids tolerated the test just fine. We were trained by a pediatrician on how to conduct the test. We used the nasal swab. We told the kids, ‘We are putting a butterfly in your nose.'”
Prior to the study, children were not required to undergo PCR tests.
Lamberghini added: “For most of them, it was a surprise to learn their child tested positive. It was good for families to know because these kids can transmit the virus, especially in communities where extended families tend to live together.
“As dentists, we are more exposed to the COVID-19 disease because we work close to the mouth, and our tools generate aerosols that can infect the dentist and dental assistant — whoever is around.”
Co-authors of the study titled ‘Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in asymptomatic pediatric dental patients‘ include Dr Fernando Testai, UIC professor of neurology and rehabilitation, and Dr Gabriela Trifan, UIC assistant professor of neurology and rehabilitation.