After consultation with leaders in organized dentistry, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has released updated guidelines for dental practices in Pennsylvania. The newly released document (REVISED Guidance on COVID-19 for Dental Health Care Personnel in Pennsylvania) replaces the Guidance on COVID-19 for Dental Health Care Personnel in Pennsylvania issued on March 22, and these updated guidelines are effective immediately.
“We compliment the Policy Office of the Department of Health as well as the Governor’s office for having engaged organized dentistry, especially the Pennsylvania Dental Association, in revising the regulations from the March 22 document and listening to our concerns,” said Dr. Charles Incalcaterra, PDA president. “Now, dentists in Pennsylvania can provide emergency dental care to patients who have been suffering with severe pain and swelling, or who have had traumatic injuries to their teeth as a result of accidents, without the requirement to use negative pressure rooms which are not available in dental offices, hospitals, public health facilities or dental schools.
“We are also pleased that patients needing life-saving medical procedures, such as cardiac surgery, kidney transplants, radiation and chemotherapy, can be screened for dental clearance by their dentists. We look forward to communicating regularly with the Department of Health as this crisis unfolds.”
Routine dental care is still prohibited under this order. Only patients with dental emergencies or urgent dental needs can be seen, and pre-screening procedures should be implemented prior to dentists seeing the patient. Dentists should review the infection control processes as outlined in the document and review the guidelines for how to treat patients who are COVID-19 negative or who are not suspected of having COVID-19 and those for patients who are COVID-19 positive or suspected of having the virus.
The Department of Health has committed to continuing conversations with PDA leaders and others on a regular basis as COVID-19 continues to spread in Pennsylvania. In the future, new guidelines for the safe delivery of routine dental care, when permitted, will be developed in cooperation with organized dentistry.