Royal College of
Dental Surgeons of Ontario
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COVID-19: Managing Infection Risks During In-Person Care

The College has developed guidance for Ontario dentists to manage infection risks during in-person care during the COVID-19 crisis:

For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, dentists’ ability to provide in-person care will take place in one of 3 stages:

  • Stage 1: At the height of community transmission, in-person dental care is restricted to emergency and urgent care only. In Stage 1, non-emergency and non-urgent care may only be provided remotely (i.e., via teledentistry).
  • Stage 2: As community transmission declines, dentists will be permitted to provide an expanded list of in-person services (essential care only is permitted in-person), with enhanced precautions.
  • Stage 3: When community transmission has been significantly mitigated, dentists will enter the ‘new normal’ in which in-person care is provided with reduced precautions.

The 3 stages described above are not static: over time, dentists may move forwards or backwards between stages as community transmission ebbs and flows.

At the present time, dentists in Ontario are in Stage 2. 

According to Directive 2 from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in-person care must be limited to essential care only. 

Examples of emergency, urgent, and non-essential care are available here.

Non-essential and elective services must only be provided remotely, via teledentistry in accordance with the College’s guidance.


The following principles form the foundation for this guidance:

  1. Dentists have a professional, legal, and ethical responsibility to provide care in a manner that is both safe and effective.
  2. The health and safety of patients, the public, and practitioners is the top priority. All protocols for treatment and support will put safety first.
  3. The College’s guidance to dentists is informed by the direction provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Minister of Health, and others.
  4. Patients need continuity of care. Patients of record must have access to their dentist for guidance, support, and referral, where needed.
  5. Patient access to oral healthcare must be balanced with the risks of spreading COVID-19.
  6. Guidance is based on the best available evidence and data. In the absence of clear evidence, guidance will prioritize caution and safety.
  7. Return to practice will occur in well-defined stages that balance a return to the “new normal’ with the risks of spreading COVID-19, including the risks of a second wave of COVID-19.
  8. The College will prioritize the use of teledentistry to assess risk and appropriately triage patient needs.