As state and federal agencies begin planning to reopen non-essential businesses, the ADA is advising practices that government decisions regarding closures including restrictions on elective healthcare supersede ADA recommendations.
The ADA also noted that local and state health departments, state dental societies, and, in some cases, large urban local dental societies may better understand local disease transmission rates and conditions and make more informed recommendations regarding elective dental care availability.
Dentists in states that are considering reopening should exercise professional judgement and carefully consider the availability of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), the ADA said, to minimize the risk of virus transmission.
The ADA also said that it is communicating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, other federal agencies, and relevant organizations to advocate that dentists as essential healthcare workers are prioritized for PPE.
Additionally, the ADA said that tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19 are not available to dentists in the United States as of April 16, so dentists should be aware that asymptomatic patients who appear healthy should not be assumed to be COVID-19 free.
To aid dentists who may be reopening their practices when state mandates are lifted, then, the ADA has developed interim guidance for recommended PPE. Additional guidance will be issued regarding protocols for office and treatment procedures.
The longer dental practices remain closed to preventive care and treatment for early forms of dental disease, the more likely that patients’ untreated disease will progress, increasing the cost and complexity of treatment later, the ADA said.