Dental Office Settings COVID-19 Reopening Guidelines

COVID-19 is thought to be spread primarily through respiratory droplets, meaning that close-contact services pose a potential risk of virus transmission. For dentists, orthodontists, and other dental professionals, this means that several precautions must be taken to protect patients and other staff against the spread of COVID-19 during dental work.

Aside from the inherent risks associated with performing work inside a patient’s mouth, the dentistry practice involves using rotary dental and surgical instruments such as handpieces, ultrasonic scalers, and air-water syringes that are known to splash droplets of water and saliva onto nearby surfaces, potentially contaminating them.

With these considerations in mind, dental professionals face several unique challenges and questions when determining how to perform dental services during COVID-19, including:

  • Is it safe to perform dental work during COVID-19?
  • How do we stop the spread of COVID-19 during dental work like dental cleanings or dental surgeries?
  • What are the proper sanitation protocols for dentistry equipment in light of COVID-19?
  • Should a dentist or orthodontist office provide a waiting area for guests, and how should appointments be coordinated?
  • What is the necessary personal protective equipment for dental professionals?

With these questions in mind, AIHA has created this “Returning to Work: Dental Settings” guide to offer practical advice for how to resume dental services during COVID-19 safely. The guidance borrows from the latest advice given by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as expert advice from other leading health, government, and dentistry organizations.

This guidance document share actionable steps and recommendations to protect dental professionals and patients, including information on the following key areas on how dentists, orthodontists, and other dental professionals can reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19:

  • Recommended workplace health and safety plan components, including the importance of implementing workplace flexibility and leave policies
  • How to conduct a worksite assessment to identify COVID-19 risks in dental settings
  • Best practices for communicating with dental staff or patients who display symptoms or have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • Signage to post that will educate dental professionals and patients about how to limit the spread of COVID-19
  • Strategies to enable social distancing in dental settings
  • Steps to conduct patient screening before and after providing dental services, including how to telephone screen patients and what to do if a dental patient reports signs or symptoms of COVID-19
  • When to postpone dental treatment and when to accept a dental patient that previously tested positive for COVID-19
  • Considerations for using different types of dental equipment and the potential risks of spreading COVID-19
  • Cleaning, disinfection, and sanitation protocols for dental settings, including how to disinfect dental instruments
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) for dental professionals, including face shields, masks, and safety goggles
  • Proposed alterations to dental office waiting areas, including whether to remove communal objects like magazines, television remote controls, and toys
  • Recommended training for dental staff about how to limit the spread of COVID-19

Download our “Returning to Work: Dental Settings” guidance document today to learn how to resume dental services during COVID-19 safely.