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MDA Supports ADA: Dentistry is Essential Health Care

Staying well depends on health care access, which includes dental treatment.

Missouri Dental Association Supports ADA Position: Dentistry is Essential Health Care

On Wednesday, August 12, 2020, the American Dental Association (ADA) made a statement of “respectfully yet strongly disagreeing” with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation to delay “routine” dental care in certain situations due to COVID-19.

The MDA, a state constituent of the ADA, agrees with this statement, as well as that of the comments of ADA President Chad P. Gehani, DDS, who said, “Oral health is integral to overall health. Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.”

This statement comes after the ADA Board of Trustees in July created an ad interim policy to recognize the public’s need to access full range of dental services and to help guide advocacy for the dental profession during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This policy was created to recognize that dentistry is an essential service. Whether it’s the current pandemic, a future epidemic or a natural disaster in a particular area, this policy recognizes the need for people to be able to continue to access the full range of dental services,” said Dr. Gehani “Staying well often depends on having access to health care, which includes dental treatment.”

In March, when COVID-19 cases began to rise in the U.S., the ADA called for dentists to postpone all but urgent and emergency care in order to understand the disease, consider its effect on dental patients, dental professionals and the greater community. Both the ADA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) then issued interim guidance for dental professionals related to COVID-19. 

The ADA’s guidance calls for the highest level of personal protective equipment (PPE) available—masks, goggles and face shields. The ADA’s interim guidance also calls for the use of rubber dams and high velocity suction whenever possible and hand scaling when cleaning teeth rather than using ultrasonic scaling to minimize aerosols.

“The MDA adopted ADA and CDC recommendations to ensure the safety of our patients and team members, said MDA Executive Director, Vicki Wilbers. “Several State oral health stakeholders—including the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services—also developed Missouri Dental Practice Recovery Task Force Guidelines and the ADA developed a Return to Work Interim Guidance Toolkit, both of which helped dentists and their teams begin to safely provide patient care when the state re-opened in early May.”

“Millions of patients across the nation and in our state have safely visited their dentists in the past few months for the full range of dental services, said MDA President, Mike Berry, DDS. “With appropriate PPE, dental care should continue to be delivered during global pandemics or other disaster situations.”

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The MDA is a non-profit, professional organization with more than 2,000 members statewide, representing all areas of dentistry. Founded in 1865, the MDA is a unified organization of individual members committed to the highest quality of care for the public and a resource for advocacy, education, communication, information and fellowship. The MDA is a state component of a tripartite association where members belong to the American Dental Association (ADA) and a local component society. 

The not-for-profit ADA is the nation’s largest dental association, representing 163,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public’s health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. 

For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit MouthHealthy.org. To find an ADA dentist, visit findadentist.ada.org.

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