Smart Talk Wednesday: Dental care resumes in Pa., but how to safeguard patients and providers?

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, dental care for most non-emergency procedures was deemed non-essential and many providers closed their doors.

Because the virus is most frequently transmitted through direct contact and respiratory droplets, the decision to stop routine dental treatments was considered imperative.

The danger is in the aerosols that are created in the treatment room. Dental equipment generates aerosols because of the high-speed rotation that is part of certain procedures. An aerosol is a tiny liquid particle that is suspended in the air for anywhere from seconds to hours. Dental patients, as well as providers, are then at risk of inhaling the contaminated air particles.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health recently released guidance for dental providers under the Governors phased reopening plan so that non-urgent dental procedures can resume.

Joining Smart Talk on Wednesday is Dr. James Tauberg, DMD, President of the Pennsylvania Dental Association to talk about the state’s guidelines and protocols to keep patients and providers safe.

Routine teeth cleaning also stopped when dental providers closed their doors in March. Regular cleanings are just one component of oral health and advocates point out that not everyone has equal access to dental care in Pennsylvania, let alone regular cleanings.

Appearing on Smart Talk to address these and other aspects to community dental care are Helen Hawkey, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Oral Health and Kelly Braun, RDH, MSDH, the Dental Delivery Systems Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health, Pennsylvania State University.