Cities have been slowly coming out of lock down and allowing businesses to reopen. In fact, a small portion of dental offices have already reopened in some cities. However, since the aerosol-generating dental procedures pose a high risk of spreading COVID-19, offices must take extra precautions. The guidance for offices to return to practice provided by government and the College must be strictly adhered to.
The RCDSO has recently released new guidelines for dental offices to follow. On top of providing guidance for offices to re-open such as preparing the office, providing dental care, aerosol-generating procedures and exposure in the practice, the RCDSO also provides the following updated information:
Staged Approach to Return to Practice
According to the guideline, there will be a 3-staged approach for dentists to return to practice. The stage that the city is in determines the scope of services that can be provided by dental offices:
- Stage 1: In-person dental care is restricted to emergency and urgent care, all non-emergency and non-urgent care can be provided through teledentistry
- Stage 2: A decline in community transmission allows dentists to perform a wider range of in-person, essential services, provided that there are enhanced precautions in place
- Stage 3: A significant mitigation of community transmission will allow dentists to provide in-person care with reduced precautions
At the time of writing this article, dentists in Ontario are in Stage 2. However, it should be noted that dentists can move forwards or backwards between stages depending on the community transmission statistics.
The foundation of the RCDSO guidance is based on the following principles, which dentists should also adhere to:
- Responsibility: It is the professional, legal, and ethical responsibility of dentists to provide care that is both safe and effective.
- Safety: All protocols for treatment and support will put safety first as a top priority is the health and safety of patients, the public, and practitioners.
- Guidance: The College’s guidance to dentists is informed by the direction provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Minister of Health, and others.
- Continuity of care: Patients of record must have access to their dentist for guidance, support, and referral, where needed.
- Balance: Patient access to oral healthcare must be balanced with the risks of spreading COVID-19.
- Evidence: Guidance is based on the best available evidence and data. In the absence of clear evidence, guidance will prioritize caution and safety.
- Staged approach: Return to practice will occur in well-defined stages that balance a return to the “new normal” with the risks of spreading COVID-19, including the risks of a second wave of COVID-19.
- Teledentistry: The College will prioritize the use of teledentistry to assess risk and appropriately triage patient needs.
For the full update on preparing the office and providing dental care, please refer to the new RCDSO guideline: COVID-19: Managing Infection Risks During In-Person Dental Care
We have also compiled a list of resources to keep you informed, and will continue to update it as more information is released.