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Is it safe to go to the dentist after you get the COVID vaccine?

safe to go to the dentist after vaccine
Photo via sergio santos/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: July 19, 2021

Now that about 65% of American adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, many people are wondering whether it is safe to go to the dentist after getting vaccinated. Long story short: Yes, it is safe to go to the dentist after getting both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

As far as healthcare visits go, a trip to the dentist is arguably one of the most likely to spread COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is transmitted most easily between “people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.” 

At the dentist, you run the risk of aerosol droplets spreading from the use of “rotary dental and surgical instruments, such as handpieces or ultrasonic scalers and air-water syringes,” according to the CDC. Although dentists wear surgical masks when working with patients, those masks don’t provide complete protection. Your dentist could potentially catch COVID-19 from another patient and unknowingly give it to you. 

However, as essential healthcare workers, dentists were at the front of the line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Your dentist is most likely now vaccinated, on top of continuing to follow all other CDC guidelines like mask-wearing and social distancing. The likelihood you can catch COVID-19 at the dentist is far less likely now, especially since a 2020 survey showed that less than 1% of dentists had tested positive for the coronavirus.

In late May 2021, a study in the Journal of Dental Research showed that patient saliva was not the major source of aerosols that were generated at the dentist’s office. “Getting your teeth cleaned does not increase your risk of COVID-19 infection any more than drinking a glass of water from the dentist’s office does,” said Dr. Purnima Kumar, the study’s lead author.

Additionally, Burbank Dental Implants reports that it is safe to get dental implants after getting vaccinated. Ramsey Amin, a dentist at the practice, wrote that he and his colleagues had not witnessed any dental reactions or complications to the vaccine. 

According to Summit Dental Health in Nebraska, even if you have not been vaccinated yet for COVID-19, you can still feel safe going to the dentist. 

“As each of us awaits our turn to be vaccinated, you can rest assured that your dental office is as safe as ever,” Summit Dental Health said. “We will continue to implement extra safety measures, as recommended by the ADA and CDC, in addition to the infection control procedures we have always followed.” 

Dr. Jeffrey Grove, the owner of a dental practice in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, told the Reading Eagle: “It has been proven that, compared to other health care professions, dentistry and dental offices are and continue to be one of the safest places for people to come. We always wore masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves.”

Dentists can even help slow down the spread of the virus. As the California Dentist Association notes, “As trusted health professionals, dentists are positioned daily to discuss COVID-19 vaccination with their patients and the public, instill confidence about the COVID-19 vaccine and ultimately influence their patients’ decision-making about the vaccine.”

Of course, there are always risks to engaging in behavior that puts you within six feet of another person. Though the success rates for the three vaccines are impressive, they don’t guarantee you won’t get infected with COVID-19, especially as the virus continues to mutate and the delta variant continues to spread. However, the vaccine ensures that you will at least experience more mild symptoms if you get infected.  

Besides, taking care of your teeth is of the utmost importance, especially since there was so much teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching during the pandemic. And people reportedly are coming back in waves to get their teeth whitened.

“It’s been a trying time for everyone and the stress has been showing up in our mouths,” Lesli Hapak, president at the Ontario Dental Association, told the Ottawa Citizen. “The number of people grinding and clenching their teeth has skyrocketed and even a change in eating habits can negatively impact teeth. These issues can lead to broken fillings, cracked teeth, root canals, gum disease, and possible extraction of teeth.”

After you get the vaccine, is it safe to …

Sources: CDC, Burbank Dental Implants, Summit Dental Health


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