Interim Guidance on Dental Hygienists Returning to Work

Key points include recognition of unique situations, prioritizing certain care

Early last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released revised, “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Dental Settings During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.” 

Key points of the guidance included:

  • Recognize dental settings have unique characteristics that warrant specific infection control considerations.
  • Prioritize the most critical dental services and provide care in a way that minimizes harm to patients from delaying care and harm to personnel and patients from potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The revisions made substantive changes to the guidance, including updating the definition of fever to either measured temperature ≥100.0°F or subjective fever to align with CDC’s larger body of work related to COVID-19. Also, the revisions added language that protective eyewear (e.g., safety glasses, trauma glasses) with gaps between glasses and the face likely do not protect eyes from all splashes and sprays and the revisions included additional guidance on physical distancing and how to respond to SARS-CoV-2 exposures among DHCP and others.

Additionally, in areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, during patient encounters with patients not suspected of SARS-CoV-2 infection, CDC recommends that dental healthcare personnel (DHCP):

  • Wear eye protection in addition to their face mask to ensure the eyes, nose, and mouth are all protected from exposure to respiratory secretions during patient care encounters, including those where splashes and sprays are not anticipated.
  • Use an N95 respirator or a respirator that offers an equivalent or higher level of protection during aerosol generating procedures.

You may view the complete CDC Interim Guidance for Dental Settings here.


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