COVID-19 OUTBREAK: GUIDANCE FOR ORAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS

 

The COVID-19 pandemic represents an unprecendented global public health crisis. To manage the threat of continued SARS-CoV-2 infection and the risk to public health caused by COVID-19, oral health professionals need up-to-date information and guidance.

The dental profession is particularly at risk, due to the possibility of aerosols produced by saliva droplets. These droplets can be inhaled, come into contact with skin or mucous membranes, and/or lodge on the surfaces of the dental office or other materials used during the dental appointment where hands can then be contaminated.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The 2019 novel coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, is a new strain that has not been identified in humans before. The infectious disease that is caused by SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19.

COVID-19 attacks the airways and can be transmitted by respiratory droplets expelled through the nose or mouth when the individual coughs or sneezes. It can also be transmitted indirectly through the contact of the hands or mucous membranes with the contaminated inert surface. Reports differ on the number of days that the virus can survive on those surfaces.

Guidance for oral health professionals 

We urge you to consult your national government guidelines and recommendations on COVID-19. As oral health professionals, you are invited to refer to your own national dental association to obtain specific and up-to-date guidance in your own context. 

You may also consult the FDI Policy Statement on Infection Prevention and Control in Dental Practice

Important resources for oral health professionals

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division for Oral Health

Management of Acute Dental Problems During COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 Health Literacy Project: Fact Sheets in 30+ Languages

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

PAHO COVID-19 Guidance and the Latest Research in the Americas

Video series by FDI Expert Prof. Michael Glick: Pandemic Glossary with a Focus on COVID-19COVID-19 Information and Misinformation and other videos in the series 

World Health Organization guidance for health workers 

Information on personal protective equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) needs in healthcare settings for the care of patients with suspected or confirmed novel coronavirus

Guidance for wearing and removing personal protective equipment in healthcare settings for the care of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19

Open access journal articles

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Emerging and Future Challenges for Dental and Oral Medicine

Journal of the American Dental Association Coronavirus Resource Center for Dentists 

Journal of Dental Research publishes COVID-19 guidelines from researchers based in Wuhan, China

Measures and suggestions for the prevention and control of the novel coronavirus in dental institutions

Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents

Salivary glands: potential reservoirs for COVID-19 asymptomatic infection 

Transmission routes of 2019-nCoV and controls in dental practice

Protection measures for everyone

According to the World Health Organization, you can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Maintain at least a 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
     

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