The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidance on infection prevention and control for dental practices delivering care during the pandemic. As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, CDC says that “dental settings should balance the need to provide necessary services while minimizing risk to patients and dental healthcare personnel.” These new recommendations, according to the agency’s website, can help dentists (when permissible by federal, state and local authority) safely resume non-emergent care, treat patients with a suspected or confirmed infection and reduce risk of virus transmission.
Key considerations outlined by CDC include instruction on:
- patient management that helps ensure those with appointments do not have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 prior to, during and 14 days after their visit, limits contact between patients and dental employees, allows for social distancing and minimizes patient overlap;
- administrative, engineering and work practices that reduce risk of virus transmission during daily operations, limit aerosol-generating procedures and ensure proper ventilation in all clinical patient areas;
- hygiene practices, particularly hand washing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) training and use, especially facemasks and equipment required for aerosol-generating procedures;
- sterilization and disinfecting protocol to optimize removal of potentially infectious particles from all surfaces and equipment;
- treating patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to mitigate risk of virus transmission to non-infected individuals; and
- use of test-based strategies, such as rates of community transmission, to inform patient care.
CDC says these practices should be applied in conjunction with its guidance on caring for patients with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection and providing non-COVID-19 care in a clinical setting.
Dentists are reminded to visit the New York State Dental Association website for up-to-date information on NYS Health Law alerts, recommendations for returning to work and more. MLMIC also encourages dental providers to monitor all COVID-19-related updates on our resources page and continue to monitor our blog for additional guidance on safely managing practices during the pandemic.