As health care professionals, we know all too well the incredible challenges we’ve faced and continue to experience because of COVID-19. Dentistry is essential health care. These are challenges we must face for the sake of our patients.
Dental Care Should Continue During the Pandemic
Two words begin with “R” — Resurgence and Resilience.
As a nation, we’ve faced so much these past several months—COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on our bodies, our psyches, our health care system and our economy. When the pandemic began, we read stories about people who contracted the virus, but they were far from many of us. It’s hitting a lot closer to home these days. Do you know at least one of the 11 million people in the U.S. who have tested positive for COVID-19? If you knew someone who has died from it—as a quarter of a million people have—my heart goes out to you.
There’s no doubt we’re in a resurgence.
As health care professionals, we know all too well the incredible challenges we’ve faced and continue to experience because of COVID-19. Dentistry is essential health care. These are challenges we must face for the sake of our patients. Local and state governments, due to the resurgence, may implement increased measures to try to curb infection rates. Thus far, these measures have not resulted in any shut down of dental practices, but I encourage you to consult your local and state dental society for the latest local and state information.
Yet with the resurgence comes that other “R” word—resilience.
We continue to plumb the depths of our resilience, drawing strength and support from one another thanks to our ADA dental family. As dentists, we are shoulder to shoulder in this crisis, and through it all, the ADA has our backs.
On your behalf, the ADA:
- developed interim practice guidance with strengthened infection protection protocols;
- advocated for financial relief via the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program; and
- ·offered wellness resources to aid with the physical and mental stress we are all experiencing.
I was recently asked if the American Dental Association (ADA) would once again recommend that dental practices postpone all but urgent and emergency procedures as we did in March. My answer, as you can read in my statement, is that dental care should continue during the pandemic because dentistry is essential health care.
In March, we didn’t have then what we have now—specific guidance from the ADA (released in April) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (released in May) designed to safeguard the health of the public and the dental team so we can deliver care to our patients during the pandemic. I know this guidance works. To date, according to the CDC, there is no documented transmission of COVID-19 in a clinical dental setting; and a study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association found the prevalence of COVID-19 among dentists to be less than one percent. The ADA has provided your dental society with resources to advocate with government officials that dentistry should be designated “essential” and dental practices should remain open.
Due to the resurgence, you may be hearing from some patients who are anxious about receiving care. Your ADA offers you free patient communications resources—visit the Patient Return Resource Center—which includes suggested talking points and customizable materials for your practice. These materials help reassure patients about the extra measures you and your team are taking to safely deliver care and teach them about the importance of oral health to their overall health.
The ADA continues to be the leading resource for the dental profession on COVID-19. For the latest information, be sure to visit ADA.org/virus.
Someday, in the not too distant future, I hope, there will come a day when the first two words that begin with “R” that come to our minds are Rest and Relaxation. By then, we will all have mightily earned it.
Until then, please know that as your ADA president I am beside you every step of the way advocating on your behalf, that of our patients and the public at large.
Stay safe and well,
Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D.