WHO Recommends Delaying Dental Care Due To COVID-19; Dentists Disagree

Tuesday, August 18th 2020, 6:56 am
By: Shannon Rousseau

The World Health Organization recently recommended that routine dental care be delayed in certain situations due to COVID-19. However, many dentists disagree.

The American Dental Association (ADA) issued a statement saying it strongly disagrees with WHO's recommendation.

The World Health Organization released interim guidance regarding dental visits earlier this month. In the guidelines, WHO advised that "routine, non-essential oral health care, which usually includes oral health check-ups, dental cleanings, and preventive care, be delayed until there has been sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates."

However, the guidelines say essential visits, like "urgent or emergency oral health care interventions" should continue.

The President of the American Dental Assocation, Dr. Chad P. Gehani, has stressed that routine dental care should continue if proper precautions are taken, saying "dentistry is essential health care."

Dr. Paul Tiwana with the University of Oklahoma said, "There's been a number of really strongly made links between dental care, dental health, and of course the rest of your systemic health. That includes everything from low-birth weight babies to the issues associated with diabetes and chronic health conditions."

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

Both the ADA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then issued interim guidance for dental professionals related to COVID-19, calling for the use of the highest level of personal protective equipment available, such as masks, goggles, and face shields. To minimize aerosols, the ADA guidance also recommended dental professionals use rubber dams and high-velocity suction whenever possible and hand scaling instead of ultrasonic scaling when cleaning teeth.

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