As the rate of COVID-19 transmissions is rising in most states, the ADA now recommends that dentists keep their offices closed to all but urgent and emergency procedures until April 30 at the earliest in line with the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
The ADA believes individual dentists should exercise professional judgement, carefully consider the risks outlined in its interim guidance, and weigh those risks against any possible benefit to the patient, practice employees, the community, and the practitioner.
Critically important is the availability of appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) to minimize the risk of transmission during urgent and emergency care, as the proximity of individuals and the generation of aerosols during procedures elevate these risks.
Additionally, the ADA recognizes that existing and future local and state mandates supersede its recommendations. State dental associations may best understand local challenges as well and make recommendations appropriate to members in their areas.
The PPE required to reduce the risk of transmission during treatment to its lowest levels is scarce. Asymptomatic patients cannot be assumed to be free of COVID-19. And, the ADA says, point of care tests are extremely difficult to obtain.
Unless point of care tests are readily available to the dental practice, the ADA says, no one can be assured they are treating a non-infected individual. Dentists must place the safety of their patients, their staffs, and themselves first in exercising their judgement, the ADA says.
The ADA offers further information and resources online.