Dental professionals should focus on personal protective equipment when providing emergency treatment
(Editor’s Note: The following information is taken directly from the American Dental Association’s website in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and how dental professionals can best protect themselves.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides important and up-to-date information to the public and healthcare providers on the status of reported cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the United States. Initial cases were reported in Wuhan, China and it is currently thought that the most likely mode of transmission is human to human. There are several reports of transmission from an asymptomatic person with the infection, so there remains much to be learned about how COVID-19 spreads.
Availability of Personal Protective Equipment
The CDC has not changed its guidance on single-use disposable facemasks, which are regulated by FDA to be single use and should be worn once and discarded.
Page 41 of the CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings has the following guidance:
- Wear a surgical mask and eye protection with solid side shields or a face shield to protect mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth during procedures likely to generate splashing or spattering of blood or other body fluids;
- Change masks between patients, or during patient treatment if the mask becomes wet.
CDC urges Dental Health Care Personnel (DHCP) concerned about healthcare supply for PPE to monitor Healthcare Supply of Personal Protective Equipment for updated guidance, and to be familiar with the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations.
If urgent dental treatment is necessary, DHCP and medical providers should work together to determine the appropriate precautions on a case-by-case basis to avoid the potential spread of diseases among patients, visitors, and staff. Because dental settings are not typically designed to carry out all of the Transmission-Based Precautions that are recommended for hospital and other ambulatory care settings, dental professionals and medical providers will need to determine whether the facility is an appropriate setting for the necessary services for a potentially infectious patient.