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Coronavirus Overview for Dental Professionals

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from respiratory infections (including the common cold to flu-like or pneumonia symptoms), as well as gastrointestinal symptoms—all which may or may not appear and range in severity. Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) and SARS-CoV outbreaks continue to occur globally. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans, and is considered a zoonotic disease that spreads from animals to humans. Further investigations determined the source of SARS-CoV transmission was from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Although the specific source of COVID-19 has not been identified, bats and pangolins are currently implicated. As a novel coronavirus, the information scientists have gathered about it may change as researchers and the medical community continue to learn how the virus behaves.


Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory illnesses, and can include runny nose, sore throat, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.

woman coughing and graphics of virus coming out metamorworks / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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The elderly and individuals with preexisting medical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, or lung conditions, seem to experience more serious complications.

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Oral health professionals who are in contact with patients, and whose responsibilities include cleaning and disinfecting, handling contaminated supplies or equipment, and who work in proximity to potentially contaminated surfaces, don’t need to follow all infection prevention procedures.

Cleaning home table sanitizing kitchen table surface with disinfectant spray bottle washing surfaces with towel and gloves. COVID-19 prevention sanitizing inside Maridav / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Dental teams must receive training and demonstrate an understanding of when to use PPE; what PPE is necessary; how to properly don, use, and doff PPE to prevent self-contamination; how to properly dispose of or disinfect and maintain PPE; and the limitations of protective equipment.

Coronavirus bacteria cell Icon Alek_Koltukov / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Maximum filtration masks, such as N95s, feature which percentage of PFE?

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There are multiple levels of mask protection for oral health professionals, each identified according to bacterial filtration and particulate filtration efficiency levels that correspond to the demands of a given dental procedure.

n95 face mask protection safety for Coronaviruses 3d realistic vector in red background with blank copy space. corona virus cell, wuhan virus disease gilz / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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By maintaining a standard of care that is in accordance with CDC guidelines, dental teams can effectively contribute to disease prevention and help slow the coronavirus pandemic.

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Coronavirus Overview for Dental Professionals
Not bad, but there’s room to grow when it comes to understanding the coronavirus. Consider reading more about this important facet of dental hygiene care. Good luck!
Well done! Continue to study the coronavirus. You’ve got this!
Congrats! You understand the ins and outs of the Coronavirus. Get out there and put your know-how to good use!

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This information is from the article “Coronavirus Overview for Dental Professionals” by Susan Davide, RDH, MS, MSEd; Anty Lam, RDH, MPH; and Christine Macarelli, RDH, MS. To read the article, click here.
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