The American Dental Association (ADA) issued guidance for dentists in states that are considering reopening, as the federal government released guidelines for opening up America again.
To aid dentists, the ADA has developed interim guidance on the personal protective equipment (PPE) recommended in order to practice during this pandemic and minimize the risk of virus transmission. Additional guidance documents will be issued regarding protocols for office and treatment procedures.
In states that are considering reopening, the ADA believes dentists should exercise professional judgment and carefully consider the availability of appropriate PPE to minimize risk of virus transmission. The ADA is communicating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other federal agencies, and relevant organizations to advocate that dentists, as essential healthcare workers, are prioritized for PPE.
As of mid-April, conditions regarding virus transmission vary greatly across the US. Some state and local governments are now considering reopening certain businesses considered “essential,” including dental practices, as they phase their communities back into normal operations.
The ADA recognizes that local or state government decisions regarding closures, including restrictions regarding elective health care, supersede ADA recommendations. In addition, 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.
As of April 16, FDA approved tests for COVID-19 are not available to dentists in the US, according to the ADA. Therefore, dentists should be aware that asymptomatic healthy appearing patients cannot be assumed to be COVID-19 free.
“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 complexity and cost for treatment down the road,” according to an ADA press release. “The safety of patients, dentists and dental team members has been and always will be ADA’s utmost concern.”