With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, the way we provide oral healthcare has changed. Oral healthcare providers work in close contact with their patients. They use equipment that produces aerosols and are exposed to saliva, blood and other bodily fluids. All of this puts them at risk of being infected with covid-19 and of infecting their patients. Yet many of us will still need dental care during the pandemic. So it’s important to know how the screening, reception and triaging of patients has changed.
To keep staff and patients safe, the world health organization recommends prioritizing urgent cases, screening patients and implementing additional measures to protect dental personnel, administrative staff and patients. In communities with high transmission rates, urgent or emergency oral health care are prioritized and routine non-urgent care are carried out in line with recommendations at a national, sub-national or local level.
Urgent or emergency oral health care includes interventions that address acute oral or systemic infections, swelling, significant or prolonged bleeding, severe pain that can’t be controlled with painkillers, interventions needed before other urgent procedures can take place, and dental trauma. Oral health care professionals may first need to provide advice to patients by phone or other remote means or when they arrive at centers and should try to defer the need for treatment through the use of pain control and antimicrobial treatment. This approach is called the 3As: Advice, Analgesics, Antibiotic and will help them assess whether a case is urgent.
If a patient who has or may have had Covid-19 needs urgent or emergency oral health care, they should be referred to specialist oral health care services with the appropriate measures for protection in place.
On arrival at the center patients must wear masks and wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand wrap. Patients and anyone accompanying them will need to provide their contact details.