Monday, August 17, 2020

ADA Releases Statement Regarding the Extreme Safety of Dental Procedures

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) made an announcement stating that "WHO advises delaying check-ups in areas with community spread".  While I greatly respect the work that WHO does, no one has all of the 100% correct answers 100% of the time, and I feel this is one of the times where WHO has made a bad call.  As someone who practices dentistry full time, I can tell you that *dentistry in the United States is safe for patients, staff and doctors*.

Perhaps in a country where there is less than 'state of the art' equipment and 'state of the art' infection control, delaying treatment *might* be advised, it is a different situation here in the U.S.  Dental personnel here are covered in PPE pretty much head to toe, we are wearing N95 respirators, water proof garments, face shields, you name it.  Air is being filtered, surfaces are scrubbed with virus killing bacteria... there is a lot being done to keep everyone safe.

With all of that in mind, the American Dental Association released a public statement regarding their feelings on dentistry as an essential service and critical part of the healthcare system.  Here's what they had to say:

The American Dental Association (ADA) respectfully yet strongly disagrees with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation to delay “routine” dental care in certain situations due to COVID-19.

“Oral health is integral to overall health. Dentistry is essential health care,” states ADA President Chad P. Gehani, D.D.S. “Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.”

Dr. Gehani added that in March, when COVID-19 cases began to rise in the U.S., the ADA called for dentists to postpone all but urgent and emergency care in order to understand the disease, consider its effect on dental patients, dental professionals and the greater community.

Both the ADA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) then issued interim guidance for dental professionals related to COVID-19. The ADA’s guidance calls for the highest level of PPE available—masks, goggles and face shields. The ADA’s interim guidance also calls for the use of rubber dams and high velocity suction whenever possible and hand scaling when cleaning teeth rather than using ultrasonic scaling to minimize aerosols.

Dr. Gehani concludes, “Millions of patients have safely visited their dentists in the past few months for the full range of dental services. With appropriate PPE, dental care should continue to be delivered during global pandemics or other disaster situations.”

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