Our top priority is the health and well-being of our members and the public we serve. We are aware of the number of dentists in New York State who have contracted COVID-19 through their dental office despite adhering to recommended precautions. The disease has proven contagious to an extent that there is no guarantee of absolute protection, but that only proves that strict adherence to the NYSDOH guidelines and PPE requirements are called for in every situation at the present time.
We know the impact of this pandemic on all healthcare providers and the public. As part of the service to our members, we have and will continue to share information on financial resources available to our members through the CARES Act recently passed by Congress.
Please check our website nysdental.org/covid19
for further information and frequent updates.
Governor Cuomo announced he will be issuing an executive order extending his existing mandate directing schools and nonessential businesses stay closed through April 29. He will re-evaluate this at the end of that period. Please note: The guidelines from the New York State Department of Health remain in effect during this period.
The New York State Department of Health guidelines
define emergency services as urgent dental care, a somewhat more liberal standard as further explained in the American Dental Association guidelines on both emergency and urgent dental care
. The NYSDOH guidelines leave the determination of what is urgent care up to the professional clinical judgment of each dentist and makes reference to the American Dental Association (ADA) as a source of information on these clinical judgments.
The New York State Dental Association (NYSDA) wants to clearly and strongly urge member dentists to use their professional judgment wisely in dealing with urgent dental cases during this novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Understand, that when patients come to your office for anything other than emergent/urgent care, it goes against the “stay at home” plea made by federal, state, and local governments.
It cannot be stated strongly enough that no dental office should undertake any urgent or emergent dental service where that office is not equipped with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to handle such a case.
The NYSDOH guideline makes it clear that dental healthcare personnel assessing a patient with influenza-like or other respiratory illness should wear a disposable surgical face mask, non-sterile gloves, gown, and eye protection (e.g., goggles or face shield) to prevent exposure. Further, aerosol-generating procedures should be avoided whenever possible, and steps should be taken to avoid or lessen aerosol generation with all procedures. A properly fit-tested N95 respirator or equivalent should be used for aerosol-generating procedures. If not available, then dental providers should use their clinical judgment to determine the best course of action, which might include offering an alternative procedure or providing care in a setting where N95s are available.
NYSDA and the ADA are actively discussing with the CDC the need to guarantee the availability of proper PPE for dentists and to obtain guidance on what happens when full dental treatment resumes. In addition, a public relations campaign is being developed to assure patients of the safety of the dental office.