CDA Clarifies WHO Considerations to Delay Non-essential Oral Health Care are Not Relevant for Canada, but for Countries with Widespread COVID-19 Outbreaks
August 12, 2020 - Ottawa, ON: The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) clarifies that the World Health Organization's (WHO) considerations to delay the provision of non-essential oral health care during the COVID-19 pandemic are not relevant for the current status in Canada since there is not wide-spread community transmission of COVID-19 in our country. Canada is experiencing cluster-contained outbreaks, conditions which allow for routine oral health care to be provided.
The WHO considerations, published on August 11, 2020, advises high-risk countries to delay non-essential oral health care until either a sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates from community transmission to cluster cases have occurred or upon official recommendations at a country's national, sub-national or local level.
Canadian dentistry has among the highest infection control standards in the world and takes its guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, and the dental regulatory authorities in each province. Canada has been proactive in applying similar considerations during the peak infection period in early 2020 to protect the health of the public.
The Government of Canada, CDA, provincial dental associations, and dentists continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic closely. Oral health care provision is based on enhanced guidelines of provincial health officers and provincial dental regulatory bodies. Canadians can rest assured that dentists are infection control experts, and that dental offices continue to follow strict provincial guidelines and regulations that protect the health of patients and dental staff. Dentists and their staff continue to:
• be vigilant in pre-screening patients;
• comply with social distancing guidelines;
• wear additional required personal protective equipment (PPE) based on provincial guidelines and recommendations; and
• take all other necessary precautions to avoid the spread of infection, such as hand hygiene, frequently cleaning, etc.
As recognized by the WHO, access to PPE remains a critical issue, including for dental offices. CDA urges all levels of government to recognize the specific challenges of dentistry, and to help provide continued, active and dynamic support to access to a stable supply from public PPE stockpiles, especially of medical-grade masks, N95 respirators and gloves.
As a general best practice, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, CDA reminds the public to please stay home if they have flu-like symptoms (fever, cough or difficulty breathing) or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Patients who are sick and have an upcoming dental appointment should call their dental office to report symptoms, reschedule or ask about available care options.