Mumbai: The Union Health Ministry has issued guidelines for dentists to practice. Dental clinics will remain closed in containment zones. In red, orange and green zones, they have to take several precautionary measures and have to take hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a precautionary measure.
As per the guidelines, the dental clinics in orange and green zones will function to provide dental consults, however, operations have been restricted to emergency, and urgent treatment procedures are the allowed only. On the other hand, in the red zone, emergency dental procedures can now be performed.
The guidelines are very clear the dental clinics to remain closed in the containment zone can be provided via tele consultancy. Further, in emergencies, patients in this zone can seek ambulance services to travel to the nearby COVID dental facility.
“In the current COVID-19 pandemic, dentists, auxiliaries as well as patients undergoing dental procedures are at high risk of cross-infection. Most dental procedures require close contact with the patient’s oral cavity, saliva, blood, and respiratory tract secretions. Saliva is rich in COVID-19 viral load. Asymptomatic patients may be carriers. Thus, it is suggested all patients visiting a dental office must be treated with due precautions,” read the guidelines.
Dr Vivek Pakhmode, dean, Government Dental College said so far they have not received any orders or guidelines but they are taking all necessary precautions while treating patients. “Nearly 50 patients are visiting the outpatient department of the hospital. We have also ordered the doctors to take HCQ as a precautionary measure while treating patients. Moreover, we are ready to follow the guidelines of the Union Health Ministry,” he said.
The guidelines have also identified a list of protocols need to be followed in the clinics and dental hospitals irrespective of the zones.
The Ministry has asked the dental clinics to ensure ventilation and air circulation with natural air using exhaust blowers, to avoid ceiling fans. In case of a window or split AC system, they should be frequently serviced.
Zones and Dental Clinics
1. The dental clinics will remain closed in the containment zone; however, they can continue to provide tele triage. Patients in this zone can seek ambulance services to travel to the nearby COVID dental facility.
2. In the red zone, emergency dental procedures can be performed.
3. The dental clinics in orange and green zones will function to provide dental consultations. Dental operations should be restricted to emergency and urgent treatment procedures only.
4. All routine and elective dental procedures should be deferred for a later review until new policy/guidelines are issued.
5. Due to the high risk associated with the examination of the oral cavity, oral cancer screening under the national cancer screening program should be deferred until new policy/guidelines are issued.