The ADA has issued guidance to help dentists answer questions about new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding mask use for fully vaccinated people.
“The recently revised recommendations from the CDC have prompted so many questions from member dentists about what it means for them and their practices,” said Duc “Duke” Ho, D.D.S., chair of the ADA Council on Dental Practice. “The ADA has developed a fact sheet that features anticipated questions from team members and patients, along with appropriate responses to make everyone feel safe at the dental office. This pandemic, as well as the ever changing recommendations, have been difficult to navigate, but we are very aware of the needs of our members and are tirelessly working to provide as much information and guidance as quickly as possible.”
The guidance, posted at ADA.org and called CDC COVID-19 PPE Screening FAQ, answers questions including:
• Do patients still need to wear a mask when visiting a dental office?
• May dental health care personnel stop wearing masks in the breakroom?
• Should dentists continue to screen patients and dental health care personnel?
In regards to the last question, the CDC instructs health care providers to establish a process to ensure everyone entering a health care facility is assessed for symptoms of COVID-19, or exposure to others with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that they are practicing source control.
The recommendations, which were announced May 13, also state, “Although screening for symptoms will not identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection, symptom screening remains an important strategy to identify those who could have COVID-19, so appropriate precautions can be implemented.”
The ADA guidance lists steps to ensure that everyone adheres to source control measures and hand hygiene practices while in a health care facility, including:
• Posting visual alerts (e.g., signs, posters) at the entrance and in strategic places (e.g., waiting areas, elevators, cafeterias) to provide instructions (in appropriate languages) about wearing a well-fitting form of source control and how and when to perform hand hygiene.
• Providing supplies for respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette, including alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60-95% alcohol, tissues and no-touch receptacles for disposal at health care facility entrances, waiting rooms, and patient check-ins.
• Limiting and monitoring points of entry to the facility.
• Establishing a process to ensure everyone entering the facility is assessed for symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to others with suspected or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that they are practicing source control.
The ADA reminds dentists that the CDC guidance should be considered in conjunction with any state or local regulations.
For more information on the ADA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit ADA.org/virus.