Royal College of
Dental Surgeons of Ontario
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Returning to practice: planning and considerations

The Government of Ontario has now released A Framework for Reopening our Province. The document makes clear that, when implemented, “public health and safety will be the number one concern, while balancing the needs of people and businesses”. This approach reflects what we have seen in other jurisdictions, including strong interest in specific protocols, the need to balance the resumption of services with health and safety, and a commitment to ensure that any changes do not undermine the sacrifices the population has made during this pandemic and risk a second wave.

There seems to be good evidence that we are “flattening the curve” in Ontario. However, that curve looks more like a plateau at the moment, especially in the bigger urban centres. The decision on when and how to implement the government’s framework is in the power of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Government of Ontario. We continue to take part in daily and frequent calls with the Ministry and public health. When they have a better idea about when the State of Emergency should end, we will know about it.

In the meantime, the College is working on a return to practice protocol in line with the Government of Ontario’s approach. Our goal will be to provide dentists with some common sense guidance on how they can get ready for resumption of services and what the new normal will look like. We are consulting with the other regulatory bodies nationally and provincially so that we can have a sharing of information and evidence. (As an example, our Guidance on Emergency and Urgent Care has been copied by many). We have learned about approaches in Saskatchewan and PEI, as well as from Quebec, the NHS in the UK and New Zealand, just to name a few.

We’ll be informed by our public health experts, but based on what we’ve seen and heard to date, we can anticipate that there will be a staged approach to returning to practice.

We also anticipate that some form of physical distancing will need to remain in place for some while. There will be a lot of factors to consider including what resources individual practices have on hand, what testing is available and the nature of the treatment required. We hope to soon make available updated guidance on the use of teledentistry to support patients, provide more triage options for treatment and generally get a better understanding of what demands are out there.

This is a slow process, sometimes painfully so. But as a Regulator, the College has a duty to ensure we do not put the public or dentists in danger. Rigorous risk assessment is essential.

COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Guidance on emergency and urgent care during COVID-19
Emergency screening of dental patients using teledentistry