As we previously shared with VDA members, the Governor’s recent executive order announcing further restrictions on businesses does not directly impact the practice of dentistry. At this time, no states have reimposed the restrictions on elective dental procedures that were put in place earlier this year. The VDA worked closely with Governor Northam’s office to demonstrate that dentists in Virginia have the protocols in place to keep patients, staff and dentists safe, and we have remained in contact with the administration to ensure they understand that dentistry is essential healthcare. We have also urged the administration to prioritize dentists, hygienists and staff for access to the coronavirus vaccine as it becomes available to healthcare workers and first responders.
This is not to suggest that a surge in cases doesn’t impact our profession. We have provided members with interim guidelines for the practice of dentistry during this pandemic that we encourage all members to familiarize themselves with and to use their professional judgement in implementation. Virginia’s public health relies on professionals, like us, to carefully consider the actions we take in our practice and the increasing likelihood that there will be asymptomatic staff and patients entering more practices. What we are doing seems to be working well and now is not the time to let our guards down! According to the ADA’s HPI, fewer than 1% of dentists nationwide were estimated to be COVID-19 positive as of June 2020. This is approximately 10% less than that national positivity rate for all healthcare workers. Dentists have always been, and continue to be leaders when it comes to asepsis and universal precautions to keep our staff and patients safe.
We encourage you to refamiliarize yourself and staff with CDC, VDA, and ADA guidelines for safe practice in this environment. As always, staff with any symptoms that might be attributed to COVID-19 should not enter the office and potentially expose others.
Patients may also have more questions for you, and the VDA will continue to work to correct any rumors or misinformation about the virus and the safety of dental offices. The ADA recently updated its patient return toolkit with resources to help educate patients about what to expect at their next dental visit.
We stress, as the ADA and the VDA have stated, that your continued practice is essential. The care your patients receive is essential. We believe you can do this safely in the current environment. We encourage you to follow the guidance in the VDA interim guidelines. Your safety, and that of your team and patients, is our priority.