According to the WHO, all dental cleanings, oral health checkups and other preventative care should be delayed until coronavirus numbers in communities ease because dentists work in close proximity with patients for prolonged periods of time.
“Their procedures involve face-to-face communication and frequent exposure to saliva, blood, and other body fluids and handling sharp instruments,” the guidance said. “Consequently, they are at high risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 or passing the infection to patients.”
This is enhanced by the use of dental equipment that sprays and produces particles that then go into the air. Those aerosols can lead to “rapid contamination of surfaces and potential for the infection to spread,” the WHO added.
The WHO is advising dentists to give advice to patients on maintaining proper dental hygiene via social media or videoconference call instead.
Exceptions can be made for emergencies or those needing urgent care, the WHO said.
The guidance said dentists who are operating during this time should mitigate risk by practicing social distancing, wearing face shields and/or respirators, eye goggles and other PPE.
All frequently-touched surfaces should also be cleaned.