ADA Responds to WHO: Dentistry is Essential Healthcare
The American Dental Association (ADA) respectfully yet strongly disagrees with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation to delay “routine” dental care in certain situations due to COVID-19. “Oral health is integral to overall health,” asserts ADA President Chad P. Gehani, DDS. “Dentistry is essential healthcare because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.”
Gehani added that in March, when COVID-19 cases began to rise in the U.S., the ADA called for dentists to postpone all but urgent and emergency care in order to better understand the disease, and consider its effect on patients, dental professionals and the greater community.
Both the ADA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then issued interim guidance related to COVID-19 for oral health professionals. The ADA’s guidance calls for the highest level of personal protective equipment (PPE) available—masks, goggles and face shields. The ADA’s interim guidance also calls for the use of rubber dams and high-velocity suction whenever possible, and hand scaling rather than using ultrasonic scaling to minimize aerosols.
Gehani concludes, “Millions of patients have safely visited their dentists in the past few months for the full range of dental services. With appropriate PPE, dental care should continue to be delivered during global pandemics or other disaster situations.”