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Department of Health Updates Dental Guidance for Treating Patients During COVID-19 Pandemic

06/03/2020

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Department of Health today released an update to the dental health care guidance as part of the commonwealth’s phased COVID-19 reopening plan. This guidance allows dental health care providers the ability to safely provide oral healthcare, including routine cleanings.

“This latest update provides dentists the opportunity to resume non-emergency dental care, including routine care, if they can provide it safely,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. “Oral health is a key part to one’s overall health, and we strongly encourage all Pennsylvanians to regularly see a dentist and receive oral healthcare. As more dental procedures are performed during the phased reopening, dentists should prioritize dental care for the highest need, most vulnerable patients first.”

Dental providers should follow protocols outlined by the CDC for all procedures. Providers should ensure they have the appropriate amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to support their patient volume. The appropriate level of PPE, according to CDC guidance, must be available for all dental care practitioners including dental hygienists prior to providing any dental treatment. Providers should regularly check CDC guidance when providing care as recommendations and guidance could change frequently. The full guidance can be found here.

All patients should be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 before arriving at the practice and social distancing should be maintained while in the practice. Patients should wash or sanitize their hands frequently and wear a mask when not undergoing treatment. Tele-density should continue when possible as patients may be able to be treated virtually.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Repeating shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Reported illnesses have ranged from people with little to no symptoms to people being severely ill and dying.

As of 12:00 a.m., June 3, there were 73,405 positive cases of COVID-19 statewide in 67 counties and 5,742 confirmed deaths. Most of the patients hospitalized are 65 or older, and most of the deaths have occurred in patients 65 and older. More data is available here.

For the latest information for individuals, families, businesses and schools, visit “Responding to COVID-19” on pa.gov.

The Wolf Administration stresses the role Pennsylvanians play in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Cover any coughs or sneezes with your elbow, not your hands.
  • Clean surfaces frequently.
  • Stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19, especially if you are unwell.
  • If you must go out for a life-sustaining reason, please wear a mask.

Updated Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Photos, Graphics

All Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to sign up for AlertPA, a text notification system for health, weather, and other important alerts like COVID-19 updates from commonwealth agencies. Residents can sign up online at www.ready.pa.gov/BeInformed/Signup-For-Alerts.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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