Since first emerging in Ontario in November, the Omicron variant has spread rapidly.
Recent data and evidence estimate that Omicron is four to eight times more infectious than the Delta variant, and urgent action is needed to slow transmission and reduce the strain on an overburdened healthcare system.
Dentists must do their part to help slow the transmission of Omicron and preserve health system capacity by adhering to RCDSO’s COVID-19: Managing Infection Risks During In-Person Dental Care guidance document as well as the additional requirements outlined below, which are consistent with the direction of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
CMOH Directive #1: Requirements for the Use of N95 Respirators (or their Equivalent) for Suspected, Probable, and Confirmed Cases of COVID-19
With public health indicators showing signs of improvement, RCDSO has updated the requirements for the use of N95 respirators in response to the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s revised Directive #1.
These updates more closely reflect the scope of the CMOH’s Directive, and limit the circumstances in which an N95 respirator is required.
Until such time as the Directive is rescinded, dentists must follow the CMOH’s requirements for the use of PPE (set out below) in addition to the general requirements for PPE set out in RCDSO’s COVID-19: Managing Infection Risks During In-Person Dental Care guidance document:
- Dentists must don a fit-tested, seal-checked N95 respirator (or the equivalent, as approved by Health Canada) for any patient interactions involving confirmed, suspected or probable COVID-19 cases, as well as for any aerosol generating procedure (AGP), regardless of the results of the patient’s screening.
- Dentists who are not yet fit-tested for an N95 respirator must don a well-fitted surgical/procedure mask, a KN95 respirator, or a non-fit-tested N95 respirator (or the equivalent, as approved by Health Canada). Dentists who are not yet fit-tested must make reasonable efforts to ensure that they obtain fit testing at the earliest opportunity
Dentists are permitted to extend the use or reuse an N95 respirator (or the equivalent) if they adhere to the guidance set out in Public Health Ontario’s Universal Mask Use in Health Care document
CMOH Revokes Directive #2
The Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) has revoked Directive #2. This change means that dentists may resume non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures effective immediately (February 10, 2022).
Decisions to resume non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures should be made in keeping with dentists’ professional judgment and in compliance with RCDSO’s COVID-19: Managing Infection Risks During In-Person Dental Care guidance.
Dentists are Temporarily Permitted to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines Under Supervision
On December 23, 2021, the Ontario Government introduced regulatory amendments that remove legislative restrictions on who can administer a COVID-19 vaccine. These efforts will help to increase capacity to support Ontario’s booster dose rollout.
For a temporary period, dentists are now permitted to administer COVID-19 vaccines at approved vaccination sites and under the supervision of a physician, registered nurse or nurse practitioner, or pharmacist. Education and training courses will be provided.
Dentists who are interested in participating in the COVID-19 booster rollout can register at the Health Workforce Matching Portal.
The College Will Continue to Monitor the Situation and Will Provide Additional Updates as Necessary
The College will closely monitor the environment and will advise dentists of any new direction from the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Dentists who have questions that are not addressed here or RCDSO’s COVID-19: Managing Infection Risks During In-Person Dental Care guidance document are advised to review the College’s COVID-19 FAQ and/or contact the College’s Practice Advisory Service (PAS) at (416) 934-5614 or email email@example.com.