Pediatric Maxillofacial Infections During COVID-19: What Have We Learned?

Shiran Sudri, Maisa Pharayra, Yasmin Ghantous, Imad Abu El-Naaj, Amir Laviv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic significantly affected health care systems worldwide, and the field of dentistry is no exception. Odontogenic infections in pediatric patients pose unique challenges to treatment and diagnosis. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the incidence, characteristics, and treatment of pediatric maxillofacial odontogenic infections during COVID-19 compared to pre-COVID-19. Study Design, Setting, Sample: This retrospective cohort study included all pediatric patients (0-18 years old) who visited the emergency department (ED) at Tzafon Medical Center, Israel, between March 2020 and February 2021 (COVID-19), or between March 2018 and February 2020 (pre-COVID-19), and were diagnosed with maxillofacial odontogenic infections. Patients with missing demographic data and patients who did not complete the medical examination were excluded. Predictor/Exposure/Independent Variable: The exposure variable was the date of presentation, categorized as COVID-19 or pre-COVID-19. Main Outcome Variable(s): The main outcome variables were the proportion of patients diagnosed with odontogenic infections, hospitalization rate, treatment methods, and length of hospital stay. Covariates: Covariates included patient demographics, involved dentition and associated spaces, and the administration of antibiotics before ED arrival. Analyses: The Fisher exact test and Pearson's χ2 test were applied to assess differences in categorical variables. The Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used for independent variables. A logistic regression model was used to predict outcome variables. P values were two-tailed, and statistical significance was defined as P < .05. Results: The study sample comprised 471 patients: 357 (76%) in the pre-COVID-19 period and 114 (24%) during COVID-19. The relative risk of visits to the ED out of total oral and maxillofacial ED visits was lower during COVID-19 (relative risk = 0.65, P = .0001). The hospitalization rate increased from 72% (257 patients) pre-COVID-19 to 86.8% (99 patients) during the COVID-19 period (P = .001). Length of hospital stay during COVID-19 was significantly shorter than pre-COVID-19 (P < .001). Conclusion and Relevance: The findings of this study reveal a significant reduction in odontogenic infection incidents referred to the ED during the pandemic. This implies that many of these incidents can be successfully treated in community health care settings without referral to the ED.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Early online date25 Apr 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024

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© 2024 American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons


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