The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) says that the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations to delay the provision of non-essential oral healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t relevant to Canada since there is no widespread community transmission of the disease in the country.
Canada is instead experiencing cluster-contained outbreaks, the CDA said, which allows for routine oral healthcare to be provided.
Published on August 3, 2020, the WHO recommendations advise high-risk countries to delay non-essential oral healthcare until either a sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates from community transmission to cluster cases have occurred or upon official recommendations from a country’s national, subnational, or local level.
Canadian dentistry’s infection control standards are among the highest in the world, the CDA said, taking guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, and the dental regulatory authorities in each province. Canada also has been proactive in applying similar considerations during the peak infection period in early 2020 to protect the health of the public, the CDA said.
The Canadian government, the CDA, provincial dental associations, and dentists continue to monitor the pandemic closely, the CDA said. Oral healthcare provision is based on enhanced guidelines of provincial health officers and provincial dental regulatory bodies, the CDA added.
Canadians can rest assured that dentists are infection control experts and that dental offices continue to follow strict provincial guidelines and regulations that protect the health of patients and dental staff, the CDA said. According to the organization, dentists and their staff continue to:
- Be vigilant in prescreening patients
- Comply with social distancing guidelines
- Wear additional required personal protective equipment (PPE) based on provincial guidelines and recommendations
- Take all other necessary precautions to avoid the spread of infection such as hand hygiene and frequent cleaning
As recognized by the WHO, access to PPE remains a critical issue, the CDA said, including for dental offices. The CDA urges all levels of government to recognize the specific challenges of dentistry and to help provide continued, active, and dynamic support to access to a stable supply from public PPE stockpiles, especially of medical-grade masks, N95 respirators, and gloves.
As a general best practice and throughout the pandemic, the CDA is asking the public to stay home if they have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing or if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Patients who are sick and who have an upcoming dental appointment should call their dental office to report symptoms, reschedule, or ask about available care options, the CDA said.