As the pandemic surges and cases hit record highs, the ADA reminds clinicians that they should continue to provide care since dentistry is essential healthcare. ADA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance enables dentists to provide safe treatment, the ADA said, which keeps the whole body healthy.
Also, the ADA said, there have been no documented cases of COVID-19 transmission in clinical settings, and the prevalence of the disease among dentists has been less than 1%. According to the ADA Science and Research Institute and the ADA Health Policy Institute, infection rate data among dentists is still being collected, along with data from dental hygienists.
“Patient and dental team safety is always a foremost concern of dentists,” said ADA president Daniel Klemmedson, DDS, MS.
In March, the ADA recommended delaying all care except for urgent and emergency care until April 30 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, conserve personal protective equipment (PPE), and prevent patients from going to emergency rooms for dental treatment.
During this period, the ADA studied how standard infection control protocols could be augmented to improve safety during the pandemic. This work led to the development of interim guidance for dental professionals as state and local governments began allowing dental practices and other essential businesses to reopen.
The CDC’s interim guidance for dental care settings then echoed the ADA’s interim guidance, which calls for the highest level of PPE available including masks, goggles, and face shields. Plus, the ADA recommends screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure before dental appointments, using rubber dams and high-velocity suction, and hand-scaling instead of ultrasonic scaling to minimize aerosols.
“The ADA will continue to monitor the developing situation and recognizes that local and state health departments, state dental societies, and, in some cases, large urban local dental societies may make recommendations they believe are appropriate due to local conditions,” Klemmedson said.
“In general, however, dentists and dental team members across the country have effectively implemented ADA and CDC recommendations, and dental practices should remain open to provide dental care to patients,” he added.