The World Health Organization said Tuesday that routine, non-essential dental work should be delayed until COVID-19 transmission levels drop sufficiently, warning against procedures that produce aerosol spray from patients’ mouths.
The WHO said check-ups, brushing and preventative care could be delayed, as it issued instructions to dentists on how to minimize the risk of transmission during the coronavirus pandemic.
The United Nations Health Agency said now that dental services had begun to resume in many countries, some procedures could be done in a way that minimized aerosol, or micro-droplets hanging in the air.
“The WHO advises that routine non-essential oral health care ̵1; which usually includes oral health checks, brushings and preventative care – be delayed until there has been a sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates from community in case of clusters “, the instruction says.
“The same goes for aesthetic dental treatments. However, urgent or urgent oral health care interventions must be provided that are vital to maintaining a person’s oral function, managing severe pain or ensuring quality of life.”
The WHO said that if possible, patients should be checked remotely before their appointments.
The interim instruction, dated August 3, was broadcast by WHO on Tuesday.
The WHO said dentists had a high risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“Oral health care teams work close to patients’ faces for extended periods,” the organization said.
“Their procedures include face-to-face communication and frequent exposure to saliva, blood and other body fluids and the treatment of sharp instruments. As a result, they are at high risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 or passing infection in patients. “
Aerosol generation (AGP) procedures include brushing teeth with an ultrasonic scaler and polishing, working with high or low speed hand pieces, surgical tooth extraction, and implant placement.
The guideline lists the ways in which broken dentures and orthodontic appliances and extensive dental caries can be treated by minimizing or avoiding AGP.
WHO Chief Dental Officer Benoit Varenne told reporters that oral disease was a neglected health burden in many countries, affecting people throughout their lives.
“Globally, the latest estimates available show that 3.5 billion are affected by oral disease,” he said.
“Untreated dental career in permanent teeth is the most common health condition in human beings.”
He said that in a survey, 75 per cent of WHO member countries said dental services had been completely or partially disrupted during the pandemic.
Varenne also expressed concern about the availability of personal protective equipment for dentists working during the pandemic.
© Agence France-Presse