Quick Summary:CDA Practice Support answers dentists’ top questions about physical distancing, patient screening and other requirements that will continue in health care settings after much of the California economy reopens June 15.
Article updated June 15 and June 17 to reflect the California Department of Public Health’s latest guidance effective June 15 and the revised Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard that took effect June 17. CDA members are asking how the state’s reopening will apply to dental practices. Here, CDA Practice Support answers members’ top questions about physical distancing, patient screening, the use of face coverings and other requirements that will continue in health care settings after June 15.
- Must we continue to screen patients and take temperatures?Yes. Patient screening and temperature taking are recommended in the CDC guidance for dental practice. Employers are required by Cal/OSHA to implement controls to limit the COVID-19 transmission, and patient screening is considered a control.
- Do vaccinated patients have to wear masks while in the practice?Yes. CDC recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals clearly state that the recommendations do not apply at health care facilities. As a best practice, refresh patient communications and signage.
- Do vaccinated staff have to wear masks while at work?Yes. CDC guidance for vaccinated healthcare personnel state that PPE recommendations are unchanged. CDPH face-covering guidance effective June 15 identifies health care facilities as a location where fully vaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks. The revised Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard implemented June 17 removed the mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals in most indoor work settings but not in health care settings, where the CDPH and CDC guidance prevails.
- Are respirators still required to be used in the practice?Yes, for aerosol generating procedures according to CDC guidance for dental practices and the Cal/OSHA emergency temporary standard. Note: Cal/OSHA on June 17 updated the standard to require that employers provide unvaccinated employees with respirators for their voluntary use.
- Is physical distancing still required?Yes, as required by Cal/OSHA and recommended by the CDC.
- Are barriers still required?As of June 17, barriers are no longer required by Cal/OSHA.
- Can the Cavitron and other aerosol generating devices be used?There are no rules or regulations restricting these devices if they are necessary to perform dental treatment. However, Cal/OSHA requires an employer to do a COVID-19 risk assessment and to mitigate those risks to the extent feasible. The employer should describe the mitigation elements in their COVID-19 prevention/addendum to the Injury and Illness Prevention Plan. These elements can include but are not limited to respirators, high-volume evacuation and portable air filtration units.
- Does CDA still recommend patients rinse with hydrogen peroxide rinse prior to any dental procedure?Neither CDC, CDA or the ADA recommend a pre-rinse as a COVID-19 prevention method. The CDC states, “Although SARS-CoV-2 was not studied, PPMRs (preprocedural mouth rinses) with an antimicrobial product . . . may reduce the level of oral microorganisms in aerosols and spatter generated during dental procedures.”