As COVID-19 continues to spread, North American Dental Group (NADG) has partnered with the Professional Dental Alliance (PDA) and its Dental Advisory Board (DAB) to develop and integrate its Essential-Treatment Only model and advanced infection control procedures, which it is now sharing online to help limit exposure to the virus.
“Dentists, in particular, are among the most vulnerable to coronavirus exposure. We wanted to use our collaborative group model to pioneer a new restricted treatment approach that helps minimize the risk, while ensuring we can still provide essential and emergency care,” said NADG CEO Ken Cooper.
“While we’ve already implemented this approach across all NADG-supported practices, we wanted to be proactive and share our tools and resources with all dental organizations. We’ve been collaborating with dental organizations from around the globe to help them integrate the same model and approach,” said Cooper.
“It is a collective effort to help ‘flatten the curve.’ This public health pandemic requires a group effort, and NADG, along with the PDA and its Dental Advisory Board, are proud to take a leadership role in that effort,” said Cooper.
The PDA, which comprises dentists and owns all NADG-supported practices, says it spent several weeks developing updated clinical guidance for its practices to follow during the pandemic.
The Dental Advisory Board defined a list of essential versus non-essential treatments designed to help team members and dentists in its practices decide which procedures to postpone and which to maintain on schedule.
“There have been guidelines on essential and non-essential care before. But they often lead to more questions. With that context in mind, our Dental Advisory Board wanted to create clear definitions that dentists can use to make educated, thoughtful decisions that are in the best interest of their patients,” said NADG chief medical officer Dr. Andrew Matta.
“Dental practices need to be open in communities to serve critical dental needs, so these patients do not burden the medical system by relying on emergency medical services. The Essential-Treatment Only model helps practices do that while ensuring the health and safety of dentists, their team members, and their patients,” said Matta.
To help dental practices outside of its network, NADG has consulted and collaborated with dentistry boards in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and several other states, as well as associations based in the United States such as the Association of Dental Support Organizations and the Dental Entrepreneur Organization, NADG said.
In addition, NADG said it is working globally in partnership with Straumann USA to help the European-based DSO Experience Exchange develop guidelines for the Essential-Treatment Only model.
“We believe we have created a model that can help the entire industry continue to provide essential care during this crisis. This model also ensures that primary care and emergency rooms on the front lines are not dealing with dental emergencies so they can be focused on COVID-19,” said Matta.
Further, NADG’s Dental Advisory Board developed advanced infection control procedures and protocols to help dental practices ensure the health and safety of their team members and patients, including:
- Standard operating procedures for monitoring the temperatures of team members, patients, and guests
- Procedure for front desk sign-ins
- Risk survey for screening patients
- Regular updates and information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to help control the community spread of the virus including social distancing
- Infection control and enhanced cleaning protocol
- Response protocol if a team member or patient is infected with the coronavirus
- Temporary travel policy
- Procedures for closing a practice
- COVID-19 response workflow
- Frequently asked questions
- Guidance on personal protective equipment