Dentistry Workers and Employers
his section provides guidance for dentistry workers and employers. This guidance supplements the general interim guidance for workers and employers of workers at increased risk of occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
On March 16, 2020, the American Dental Association called for dentists to keep their offices closed to all but urgent and emergency procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak. Unless emergency dental procedures absolutely cannot be delayed, OSHA further recommends that emergency dental procedures be performed on patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 only if appropriate precautions, including personal protective equipment (PPE), are available and used.
Employers should remain alert of changing outbreak conditions, including as they relate to community spread of the virus and testing availability, and implement infection prevention measures accordingly. As states or regions satisfy the gating criteria to progress through the phases of the guidelines for Opening up America Again, employers will likely be able to adapt this guidance to better suit evolving risk levels and necessary control measures in their workplaces.
Employers should assess the hazards to which their workers may be exposed; evaluate the risk of exposure; and select, implement, and ensure workers use controls to prevent exposure. The table below describes dentistry work tasks associated with the exposure risk levels in OSHA’s occupational exposure risk pyramid, which may serve as a guide to employers in this sector.
Oral Health 2020 (OH2020) began in 2011 as a national systems-change strategy, which today has evolved into a movement of interconnected networks at the national, state level and community level – for the purpose of reshaping the landscape and dialogue on behalf of optimal oral health for all. The DentaQuest Foundation, the leading US philanthropy focused solely on oral health, supports OH2020.
OH2020 is a multi-year effort to strengthen and unify the networks to achieve the following goals:
- Eradicate dental disease in children
- Incorporate oral health into the primary education system
- Include an adult dental benefit in publicly funded health coverage
- Build a comprehensive national oral health measurement system
- Integrate oral health into person-centered healthcare
- Improve the public perception of the value of oral health to overall health
Earlier this year, Christine Garvey, RDH, and Chair of Oral Health Nevada’s Board of Directors was named Nevada’s representative to OH2020, and chosen for this role in part due to her experience in making connections and understanding the importance of building and weaving relationships for creating systemic change. Over the next year Ms. Garvey is charged with identifying stakeholders, including non-traditional partners, in Nevada to involve in regional activities over the year. This includes identifying a grassroots representative in Nevada, who will work with Ms. Garvey to expand the oral health network in our state and increase knowledge about programmatic and advocacy best practices related to achieving the OH2020 goals.
The Oral Health Nevada Inc. Board of Directors believes that the evidence-based science supporting community water fluoridation as safe and effective for preventing tooth decay is overwhelming. Water fluoridation began in the 1950’s, and now – 70 years later, more than 210 million US residents are receiving its benefits.
The Board of Directors at their meeting on January 21, 2016, endorsed community water fluoridation with a statement supporting it as a sound population-based public health measure, encouraging eligible Nevada communities to begin and maintain fluoridation.
Read the Oral Health Nevada statement in support of community water fluoridation here https://oralhealthnevada.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/OHN-Support-for-CWF.pdf
Oral Health Nevada has released two new oral health resources. The information provides consumers and caregivers with useful tips for preventing tooth decay. The first resource, Tips for a Healthy Smile, is available in English and Spanish, and covers toothbrushing, the appropriate amount of toothpaste, the impact of nutritional choices and information on preventive measures including fluoride and dental sealants. The second resource,Tips for a Healthy Mouth for Someone with Special Needs, focuses on oral health for individuals with special needs and also includes hints for someone with a physical disability to maintain their own oral hygiene. You may download and print these new resources on our Consumer Resources page.
On April 1, 2015, in conjunction with the inaugural Oral Health Legislative Day, Oral Health Nevada presented its annual Oral Health Hero Award to two Nevada Assemblymen, Teresa Benitez-Thompson and James Oscarson. Ms. Syd McKenzie, founder of Oral Health Nevada stated, “Each of these individuals has demonstrated public health leadership that initiated change and improved oral health for all Nevadans; they are our oral health heroes.”
Assemblywoman Benitez-Thompson was honored for her sponsorship of AB277 in Nevada’s 77th Legislative Session and its subsequent impact for increasing access to dental care for the state’s most vulnerable residents. As a result of the new law, low income children, seniors, the chronically ill and those with disabilities and special needs have access to oral health education and preventive dental care, the cornerstone of dental public health – leading to better general health and well-being.
Assemblyman Oscarson was honored for his dedication to public health and his outstanding support of school-based oral health prevention programs which have helped to address the oral health disparities impacting Nevada’s youngest residents living in low income households and in our most rural communities. According to McKenzie, “As a healthcare professional, the Assemblyman brings a unique perspective to his position as a Legislator.”