What Dental Providers Should Do (and Avoid) in Response to COVID-19
As the world confronts a global pandemic, the oral health community and dental providers have an important role to play.
Dentists and oral health leaders across the country are proud to support our medical colleagues on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and will continue to do all we can to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our communities. That means many different things, including a whole new way of working, communicating and treating patients’ oral health needs.
These challenging and unprecedented times will not be easy, and things will continue to change and evolve rapidly. While every state and local community will experience this health care crisis differently, there are many things dental providers can do right now to support each other and our communities.
Monitor the Latest Guidance from Your State and the American Dental Association
The American Dental Association (ADA) has released guidance and tools for dentists on how to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. From practice management resources to guidelines on how to create a safe workplace, the ADA has a wealth of information that providers can rely on. As this situation evolves, each community will have its own unique needs and challenges. In addition to following ADA guidance, we encourage providers to closely monitor what’s happening in their state and adhere to any directives from local officials to keep their communities safe.
Don’t Schedule Appointments Unless Truly Necessary
One of the most important things we can do right now to protect patients as well as providers is limit personal contact—and that means reducing dental care to only what’s essential. The ADA has put out specific guidance on emergency and non-emergency care.
An important aspect of limiting dental care to emergency and urgent services is to ensure dental providers don’t over-utilize personal protective equipment—a critical resource in short supply for all health workers. If dental practices have a surplus of this equipment, they may consider donating some of it to a local hospital or medical facility.
Embrace Social Media and Digital Communication Tools
In times of uncertainty, people look for connection and information. And in this time of social distancing, we rely on digital tools more than ever. Dental providers have an important role as a trusted resource for their patients, peers and communities. By communicating proactively through social media, email and other online tools, providers can help share valuable information that protects people’s health. Here are a few examples:
- Share messages of support for health workers and first responders on the front lines of the pandemic—a reminder that we’re all in this together.
- Share information and guidance from the ADA.
- Demonstrate effective hand washing techniques via video.
- Explain how you’ve incorporated social distancing for those who do need to visit your practice.
- Be transparent and proactive about communicating what services are being cancelled or postponed and what patients should do in case of a dental emergency.
Take Advantage of Continuing Education Opportunities
For providers who find themselves with fewer patients, this can be an opportunity to take advantage of continuing education (CE) courses available online. Many states are relaxing their CE requirements that normally favor in-person training. The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider and offers up to 20 free CE credits through the DentaQuest Partnership Online Learning Center.
Good oral health is important to all of us, and we understand the power of prevention. Together, we can take extra precautions to keep people safe and healthy and prevent the spread of this virus. From all of us at DentaQuest to you—be well and be safe.