The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) recently sent a letter to Loren Sweatt, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to address its newly released guidance Dentistry Workers and Employers. Public health, dental and medical experts agree that one tool to reduce exposure to COVID-19 is the implementation of point-of-care testing. The AGD continues to advocate to federal authorities that point-of-care testing is a scientific method to screen patients for COVID-19. The OSHA guidance fails to mention COVID-19 testing.
Furthermore, the OSHA guidance was drafted to recommend dental treatment for “only patients needing urgent and emergency procedures” during the pandemic. However, it is unknown when the pandemic will end. Some states are already resuming treatment of non-emergency cases rendering the newly released OSHA guidance as already out-of-date.
Additionally, the OSHA guidance is prescriptive in listing what type of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used during a dental procedure that may create aerosols. The PPE supply chain has been challenged to keep up with the needs in the U.S., and AGD is recommending that reasonable accommodations for N95 masks should be listed in the guidance for negative COVID-19 patients.Lastly, AGD noted in the letter that because of the broad range of issues general dentists manage, in order to protect the safety of their patients and staff they must be included in ongoing discussion, deliberations, and the development of guidance