On Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) released considerations for the provision of essential oral health services during the COVID-19 pandemic in efforts to help protect dentists and their patients against infection.
This guidance is based on a wider global response to COVID-19, specifically for high-risk countries that have alarming rates of COVID-19 infections and widespread community transmission. Canada, and more specifically Manitoba, does not fit this profile.
The report clearly recognizes that there may be different responses in Dentistry around the globe based on differences in infection rates by jurisdiction and levels of community spread. It further recognizes that national and local recommendations should be followed. Canada takes its guidance from Health Canada, who in turn, works closely with provincial health officers.
The Manitoba Dental Association (MDA) has been working closely with Manitoba Health and Public Health since the beginning of the COVID-19 response. We have continued this relationship during the gradual return to dental services and throughout the current state of emergency in Manitoba. We received the endorsement of our return to practice pathway from our Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Brent Roussin prior to re-establishing services in dental practices on June 1 as a part of the Provinces’ phased plan.
Oral health is integral to overall systemic health. There is no question that Dentistry is an essential health care modality for Canadians because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing, or treating oral diseases.
Oral health care provision during the COVID-19 pandemic is based on enhanced guidelines of provincial health officers and the MDA. Dental offices in Manitoba continue to follow our strict infection control standards and administrative guidelines to protect the health of patients and staff. Infection control standards and administrative guidelines are consistent with the Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommendations.
Protecting the health of patients and dental staff is and has always been a foremost priority for Manitoba dentists. The MDA would like to remind the public to please stay home if they have flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Patients who are experiencing symptoms and have an upcoming dental appointment should complete the Shared Health screening tool, call their dental office to discuss their condition, and reschedule or ask about available care options.
Marc Mollot, B.Sc, DMD
President & Chairman of the Board
Manitoba Dental Association