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Ontario dentistry regulator issues COVID-19 practice guidelines

A dentist works on polishing and contouring the teeth of a patient at his dental office (Kristen Zeis/The Virginian-Pilot via AP, File)

The body that regulates dentistry in Ontario has released new guidelines for treating patients in-person that include extra precautions as the spread of COVID-19 continues to slow.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is currently in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan.

Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person, but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

The college says non-essential care must continue to be provided through teledentistry.

The guidelines say it’s particularly difficult to protect against COVID-19 in dentistry, because many procedures generate droplets and aerosols – airborne particles composed of debris and microorganisms propelled by the use of rotary handpieces, ultrasonic devices and air-water syringes.

The college says dentists must use N95 respirators, gloves, eye protection, face shields and protective gowns when performing procedures that generate aerosols.

The guidelines also say that dentists must perform those procedures in an enclosed space – which could look like a room cordoned off with temporary walls and a door.

The college says the document was created based on direction from Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

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