COVID-19: Restrictions on Dental Practice in Australia

23-03-2020

ADA President Dr. Carmelo Bonanno

Over the last few days, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has been providing expert advice to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the Chief Medical Officer on a framework to support the continuation of essential dental service. This is based on a staged, proportionate, pre-planned response to the escalation of COVID-19.

ADA has been working with the government who is satisfied at this time that the frameworks that have been developed and the work of the ADA Infection Control Committee are sufficient at this point in time to protect the public, dentists and their staff given the current risk environment. ADA believes that it’s important that they partner with government and regulators to continue to ensure everyone is kept safe in these unprecedented and challenging times.

Last night President of ADA Dr. Carmelo Bonanno met with the Presidents and CEOs of every ADA Branch, where all agreed that the profession can ensure an appropriate and informed response that best meets the interest of the Australian community while keeping themselves and their staff safe.

According to Dr. Bonanno, the government will continue to consider dental services as essential as long as they are provided safely. The ADA’s advice is that dental practices should immediately restrict dental treatment to non-aerosol generating procedures and consider the type of patients that receive treatment wherever possible (Level 2) restrictions as per this framework.

State and territory health departments may place further restrictions on dental practices and ADA strongly advises dentists to keep abreast of both the Federal ADA and their state or territory Branch advice which will include specific guidance on the type of services that can be provided at a state level.

According to ADA, it’s important to practice safely and level two restrictions are necessary in order to do so at this time. ADA is providing this advice to members having consulted the regulator and government. The decision to issue this advice has not been taken lightly. ADA is fully aware of the challenging situation it puts all of us in, but with the rate of infection continuing to grow and the spread of COVID-19 via asymptomatic patients, the ADA leadership unanimously agree they must take this proactive step.

Personal Protective Equipment

With the global shortage of masks and access to some other PPE being rationed or becoming more difficult to secure, it is imperative dentists maintain their usual high infection control standards to minimise the risk of transmission. If dentists do not have all PPE required to practice safely, they should apply Level 5 restrictions and contact the ADA to see if they can help connect them with what they need.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt (left) announced the dental and medical professions would together receive 54 million masks on Sunday, 8th March