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CDC: Only avoid aerosol-generating dental procedures for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19

Agency narrows recommendation limiting aerosol-generating procedures

July 16, 2021

By Mary Beth Versaci

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its COVID-19 Guidance for Dental Settings to remove language stating that dental health care personnel should avoid aerosol-generating procedures for all patients, regardless of their COVID-19 status.

Instead, the CDC states to avoid aerosol-generating procedures in a typical dental operatory only for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, if possible.

If aerosol-generating procedures must be performed for these patients, then the CDC guidance includes the following recommendations:

• Aerosol-generating procedures should ideally take place in an airborne infection isolation room.

• Dental health care personnel in the room should wear an N95, equivalent or higher-level respirator, such as a disposable filtering facepiece respirator, powered air-purifying respirator or elastomeric respirator, as well as gloves, a gown and eye protection, such as goggles or a face shield that covers the front and sides of the face.

• The number of dental health care personnel present during the procedure should be limited to those essential for patient care and procedure support. Visitors should not be present for the procedure.

• Clean and disinfect procedure room surfaces promptly based on CDC guidance for environmental infection control.

Dental health care personnel should continue to practice universal precautions for all patients, even those with no symptoms of COVID-19, according to the CDC.

The CDC made the change to its guidance for aerosol-generating dental procedures to align with its Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic, which also states aerosol-generating procedures performed on patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be performed cautiously and avoided if possible.

"CDC continually assesses emerging scientific evidence for developing policies, guidelines and recommendations," the CDC Division of Oral Health stated in an email. "CDC will continue to update this guidance as additional information becomes available."