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CDA Practice Support continues to publish frequently asked questions to help dentist-employers understand their obligations and options in the COVID environment. The newest FAQ answers questions about COVID-19 testing, exposure and reporting and employee paid leave.
What do I do if I run out of face masks, gloves, or other PPE?
If you do not have adequate supplies to protect you and your staff while treating an emergency patient, reach out to your local dental society, colleagues, other healthcare professionals or facilities to request them. Supplies can also be request through your local Medical and Health Operational Area Coordinator (MHOAC). Please know that there may be a long waiting period. Access the MHOAC Contact List.
How long should I wait to treat a patient who has or had COVID-19?
It is currently recommended that symptomatic individuals who had the disease may leave home isolation seven days after symptoms first appeared or at least three days after symptoms begin to improve (including fever reduction without the use of fever reducing medication). An individual who tested positive for COVID-19 but was asymptomatic can be scheduled for a date at least 7 days after date of the positive test.
Until clearer evidence on infectivity timelines is determined, dentists and staff should take additional respiratory protection.
After a patient is scheduled for care, what else do we need to consider?
After speaking with the patient, consider the dental procedures that may need to be performed and prioritize for use those procedures that do not produce aerosols, including managing with medications, use of glass ionomer and atraumatic restorative treatment, SDF, etc.
Droplets and fine particles can linger in the air over a period of time before settling on surfaces. If seeing more than one patient in a day, treat them one at a time in different operatories or, if using only one operatory, provide adequate time between appointments in order to properly disinfect the area. Schedule aerosol-producing procedures toward the end of the day. Only have necessary personnel in the treatment area.
Can I wash or reuse face masks?
Single-use masks, or disposable masks, should not be washed for the purpose of reusing with patients. CDC does provide "crisis" guidelines that may offer non-standard options for mask use. Continue to watch for guidance on mask use.
What do I do if I suspect exposure to COVID-19 in the practice? Do my staff and I need to self-quarantine?
That is a decision that can only be made at the time of the event and certain factors would have to be considered and assessed. For example, an employee or a patient whose partner has a co-worker exhibiting symptoms is a low-risk situation compared to a situation where an employee or patient has a partner who has symptoms consistent with COVID. Individuals who have reported possible exposures to their medical care providers should follow the provider’s instructions. Consult with your local public health department if exposure risk is high, for example, when a patient was seen in the office and then reports within a couple weeks that they have tested positive for COVID.
Policies and practices that all dental office employees should follow to minimize exposure.