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:
- Dentists have a professional, legal, and ethical responsibility to provide care in a manner that is both safe and effective.
- The health and safety of patients, the public, and practitioners is the top priority. All protocols for treatment and support will put safety first.
- 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.
- Patients need continuity of care. Patients of record must have access to their dentist for guidance, support, and referral, where needed.
- Patient access to oral healthcare must be balanced with the risks of spreading COVID-19.
- Guidance is based on the best available evidence and data. In the absence of clear evidence, guidance will prioritize caution and safety.
- 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.
- The College will prioritize the use of teledentistry to assess risk and appropriately triage patient needs.