On August 11, the World Health Organization calls for people to delay routine and non-essential dental work until rates of transmission of the COVID-19 has significantly dropped. They also cautioned people of dental procedures that might produce aerosol spray from the mouths of the patients.
According to WHO, dental cleanings and preventive care could be postponed. They already released guidelines for dentists on how to minimize the risk of transmission during the pandemic.
Additionally, the United Nations health agency said that there are several procedures in the oral health care system that can be done in a way that could minimize aerosol or the micro-droplets hanging in the air.
Who Guidelines for Oral Health Care
The guidance released by WHO stated that routine non-essential oral health care -including oral health check-ups, dental cleanings, and preventive care- be delayed until the COVID-19 transmission rates have significantly dropped.
Furthermore, the same guidance should be implemented for aesthetic dental treatments. However, dentists are allowed to operate in situations where immediate care is needed to preserve the oral functioning of a person, manage severe pain, and secure the quality of life.
They also mentioned that it would be better if patients could be remotely screened before their appointments. WHO's interim guidance in oral health care operation was aired by the health agency on Tuesday.
Working in Close Proximity
WHO is concerned that dentists are at high risk of getting the virus, SARS-CoV-2, as they work in close proximity to the faces of their patients for prolonged periods.
Dental care involves close face-to-face communication and frequent exposure to the patient's saliva, blood, other body fluids, and sharp instruments that they use during their procedures. Consequently, they are at high risk of either being infected or passing the infection to their patients.
For instance, an aerosol-generating procedure like dental cleaning using an ultrasonic scaler and polishing that works with high- or low-speed hand-pieces, surgical tooth extraction, and implant placement increases the chance of transmission if either one of them is already infected.
The WHO has listed ways in their guidance for the dentists in dealing with broken dentures and orthodontic equipment and also extensive dental caries that could help in minimizing or avoiding aerosol-generating procedures.
Benoit Varenne, the dental chief of WHO, said that oral health was a neglected part of the health sector in many countries that affects many people throughout their lives.
"At the global level, last estimates that are available show that 3.5 billion are affected by oral disease," Varenne said. The most common oral health condition in human beings is the untreated dental caries in permanent teeth.
According to Varenne, a survey suggests that 75% of the WHO member states said that the dental services in their countries have either completely or partially disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic.
Not to mention the lack of personal protective equipment for the dentists working during the pandemic, says Varenne.