DentaQuest Partnership Clarifies World Health Organization Guidance Still Allows Routine Dental Care To Continue in U.S. During Pandemic

Oral health care is a critical component of overall health; confusion caused by recent recommendations should not prevent people from continuing preventive care

The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, a nonprofit organization working to transform an inequitable health care system, seeks to clarify recent oral health guidance by the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is important to understand that the WHO guidance defers to official recommendations at the national and local levels. This fact is overlooked by recent reports suggesting that WHO is urging a delay in routine dental care.

In the United States, public health and leading dental organizations - including the Center for Disease Control, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the American Dental Association and the American Dental Hygienists Association - have issued guidance on infectious control measures to be implemented by dental practices to ensure that preventive dental care can be administered safely. The WHO guidance supports adherence to these national recommendations.

The DentaQuest Partnership recently worked with the Organization for Safety Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP), the leading provider of infection prevention and control education, training and credentialing, to develop a comprehensive set of best practices based on the guidance issued by U.S. public health and leading dental organizations for dental providers and a companion piece for patients to support the safe return to preventive dental care for all.

The following is a statement from Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, President and CEO of the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement and Catalyst Institute, Inc.

“Recent WHO guidance has caused quite a bit of confusion at a time we can least afford it. Let us be clear – oral health directly impacts overall health, and this guidance does nothing to prevent people in the U.S. from continuing preventive dental care during this pandemic.

In fact, the WHO guidance specifically defers to recommendations at the national and local levels. In the United States, leading public health organizations have issued clear infection control measures that should be implemented by dental practices to ensure that in-person preventive dental care can be administered as safely as possible. We have worked to compile those best practices into easily accessible resources for dental providers and patients to follow. As long as national and local recommendations support it — and dental providers follow these procedures — patients do have the option to visit their dentists for routine dental care.

We urge people to continue addressing their oral health needs in whatever way they are most comfortable — whether at home, via teledentistry appointments, or by visiting their dental provider. Delaying oral health treatment now can lead to more significant health problems down the line.”

Related Facts About Oral Health in the United States

  • Poor oral health has a direct link to higher risks of chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and more. It also leads to greater instances of depression and other mental health diseases.
  • Black adults are 68% more likely to have an unmet dental need than white adults. Nearly 4 in 10 Black and Latino adults reside in the 14 states where Medicaid’s adult dental benefits cover no services or emergency-only care.
  • The best practice resource from the DentaQuest Partnership and OSAP is a compilation of current regulations, guidance and practice tips issued by U.S. public health agencies and leading dental organizations. A full list of resources and tools can be found here.