10 key interim dental infection control measures when treating emergencies

The CDC released interim dental infection control measures for treating emergency patients April 27.

Ten key takeaways:

1. Postpone all elective procedures and non-urgent dental visits.

2. Telephone screen all patients for symptoms of respiratory illness. If the patient reports symptoms, avoid care.

3. Require face masks or coverings for everyone entering the office.

4. Actively screen patients for fever and COVID-19 symptoms before they enter. Screen staff for symptoms before every shift.

5. Implement sick leave policies that are flexible and non-punitive, allowing employees to stay home if they have symptoms.

6. Avoid aerosol-generating procedures whenever possible, as well as the use of dental handpieces and air-water syringes. If aerosol generating procedures are necessary, use four-handed dentistry, high evacuation suction and dental dams to minimize droplet spatter.

7. Staff must have job-specific training on personal protective equipment and demonstrate competency putting it on and removing it without self-contamination.

8. Clean and disinfect room surfaces promptly after completion of care.

9. Staff should contact all patients who received emergency dental care 48 hours after care and ask them if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19.

10. If experiencing severe resource limitations, consider excluding staff who may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 from performing emergency dental care. 

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