The World Health Organization issued new guidance Tuesday advising people to delay routine dental cleanings while the novel coronavirus pandemic continues its spread.
Per the guidance, all dental cleanings, oral health check-ups and other preventative care should be postponed until COVID-19 infections decrease because dentists work in close proximity to patients, often for extended periods of time, KRON reported.
“(Dentists’) procedures involve face-to-face communication and frequent exposure to saliva, blood and other body fluids and handling sharp instruments. Consequently, they are at high risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 or passing the infection to patients,” the guidance stated.
In addition, WHO cited the role of aerosols in the “rapid contamination of surfaces and potential for the infection to spread” and called for more research into common dentistry practices that produce the tiny floating particles that might cause infection if inhaled, Reuters reported.
According to the new guidance, such practices include three-way air/water spray, ultrasonic cleaning equipment that removes deposits from the tooth surface and polishing.
“The likelihood of COVID-19 being transmitted through aerosol, micro-particles or airborne particles … today I think is unknown. It’s open to question at least. This means that more research is needed,” Benoit Varenne, a WHO dental officer, said during a news briefing.
Practices that require more observation include three-way air/water spray, ultrasonic cleaning equipment that removes deposits from the tooth surface, and polishing, Reuters reported.
In the short term, WHO is advising dentists to counsel patients on maintaining proper dental hygiene via videoconference calls or social media, KRON reported.
Article author: Kelli Dugan
Originally published in: WPXI-TV – Pittsburgh