DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement and OSAP Help Reopen Dental Care for Dentists and Consumers
Leveraging clinical expertise to develop best practices and consumer-facing guides for the safe return to preventive dental care for all
The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, a nonprofit organization working to transform the broken health care system and enable better health through oral health, today announced a new collaboration with the Organization for Safety Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP), the leading provider of infection prevention and control education, training and credentialing. Together, the two organizations aim to support dentists and dental consumers by developing and disseminating best practices as dental care settings reopen for routine care following COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
“Overnight, dentistry became one of the highest risk occupations during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michelle Lee, executive director of OSAP, citing Department of Labor data. “Dentistry has a great history of providing safe oral health care and will continue to do so. We are fortunate to have dental infection prevention experts committed to studying and creating interim guidance for all as we navigate these uncharted waters.”
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even talks. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). In a dental care setting, both workers and patients may be at increased risk for spread of infection due to the close proximity required for delivery of care. Many people may not show symptoms of the illness and are able to infect others who may be contagious 48 hours before showing any signs of the illness. In March, most state governments required dental practices to limit oral health care to those patients in need of emergency care to slow the spread of infection. At present, most states are moving forward to allow dental practices to deliver a broader range of services.
“Health starts in the mouth and without access to necessary preventive oral health care, millions of Americans are at increased risk of poor health outcomes due to unidentified and untreated dental disease,” said Myechia Minter-Jordan, President and CEO of the DentaQuest Partnership and Catalyst Institute, Inc. “We need to reopen access to preventive oral health care for all, but the current healthcare crisis has sparked a reevaluation of how the oral health community can best provide safe care in a sustainable way. Our clinical experts and leaders are helping pave the way forward for dentistry.”
DentaQuest Partnership leaders will lend their expertise to a taskforce of nationally recognized dental infection prevention and safety subject matter experts convened by OSAP. The taskforce will operationalize current guidance and regulations into a best practices document for dental care personnel and produce easy to understand, consumer-facing communications about new safety measures and what patients can expect when they go back to the dentist.
“Today, dentists are grappling with how best to reopen their doors and provide needed preventive care to their patients,” said Julie Frantsve-Hawley, Ph.D., CAE, director of analytics and publications for the DentaQuest Partnership and OSAP taskforce member. “They are seeing different recommendations and guidelines from the American Dental Association, American Dental Hygienists Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Our task is to help dentists, and ultimately consumers, make sense of these different rules to make informed decisions about their own health and safety.”
The resources developed by the DentaQuest Partnership and OSAP will address the most critical elements necessary to safely reopen care including, but not limited to:
Patient confirmations and arrivals,
Staff and patient protection strategies
Personal protective equipment optimization, including use of respirators
Dental hygiene chairside
Dentist and dental assisting chairside
Environmental cleaning and disinfection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released interim guidance on infection prevention and control for dental settings during the COVID-19 response on May 22. The OSAP taskforce plans to release best practices for implementing this and other industry and agency guidance by June 15. Best practices and related companion guides for dentists and consumers will be updated as new information emerges over the next 12 months.
“We hear regularly from dentists who are struggling to understand what new safety measures they should be implementing to keep their patients safe and reopen their dental practices,” said Karen Gregory, chair of the OSAP taskforce. “From hospital-based dental clinics to sole-practitioner small businesses, we need to ensure that dental practices can reopen and stay open, which means safety is of the utmost importance.”
About the DentaQuest Partnership
The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement is a nonprofit organization working to transform the broken health care system and enable better health through oral health. Through strategic grantmaking, research and care improvement initiatives, we drive meaningful change at the local, state and national levels. The DentaQuest Partnership is affiliated with DentaQuest, a leading U.S. oral health enterprise with a mission to improve the oral health of all. Find out more at www.dentaquestpartnership.org.
The Organization for Safety Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) is a growing community of clinicians, educators, researchers, and industry representatives who advocate for safe and infection-free delivery of oral healthcare. OSAP focuses on strategies to improve compliance with safe practices and on building a strong network of recognized infection control experts. www.osap.org
DentaQuest is a purpose-driven oral health care company dedicated to improving the oral health of all. We do this through Preventistry® – our all-in approach to better care, expanded access, value-based financing, and innovative solutions. We manage dental and vision benefits for 27+ million Americans and provide direct patient care through our network of more than 85 oral health centers in 5 states. We provide outcomes-based, cost-effective dental solutions for Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare Advantage, small and large businesses, and individuals nationwide. And, we've invested more than $200 million in grants and programs to achieve measurably healthier communities across the country. By advancing prevention-focused oral health, we will achieve better overall health for everyone. Learn more at www.DentaQuest.com and follow us on social: Twitter @DentaQuest, Facebook www.facebook.com/DentaQuest, Instagram @Inside_DentaQuest, and LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/DentaQuest.