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Updated CDC Guidance Provides Clarity for Dental Settings during COVID-19 Response

The CDC has updated its Guidance for Dental Settings During the COVID-19 Response. Per the CDC, most of the recommendations in the updated guidance are items that have been rearranged for clarity and are not new. The CDC’s updated guidance and reorganization for clarification follow two separate meetings between AAO representatives, including members of the AAO’s COVID-19 Task Force, and the CDC, as well as the AAO’s participation in a listening session conducted by the CDC and hosted by OSAP (Organization for Safety and Asepsis Prevention). The AAO specifically requested reorganization of CDC’s guidance for clarity, among other issues discussed in these meetings.

The new updates announced by the CDC include:

  • How to respond to SARS-CoV-2 exposures among dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) and patients, and guidance on physical distancing.
  • The definition of fever has been changed to either measured temperature ≥100.0°F or subjective fever to align with CDC’s Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.
  • In areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, during encounters with patients not suspected of SARS-CoV-2 infection, CDC recommends that DHCP:
    • Wear eye protection in addition to their facemask to ensure the eyes, nose, and mouth are all protected from exposure to respiratory secretions, including those where splashes and sprays are not anticipated.
    • Use an N95 respirator or a respirator that offers an equivalent or higher level of protection during aerosol generating procedures.
  • Added language that protective eyewear (e.g., safety glasses, trauma glasses) with gaps between glasses and the face likely do not protect eyes from all splashes and sprays.

The CDC recognizes that it is unknown at this time how COVID-19 may permanently change infection control practices in dental health care settings. CDC continually assesses emerging scientific evidence for developing policies, guidelines, and recommendations. You can find the most up-to-date information about infection prevention and control practices on CDC’s COVID-19 page. This is an emerging, rapidly changing situation, and CDC will update this guidance as additional information becomes available.

The AAO will continue to be proactive in monitoring and working with the CDC and other relevant governmental agencies on these topics, in order to best protect the health and safety of patients, as well as to represent the interests of AAO members.