March 17, 2020
Anyone planning to get their teeth cleaned soon may need to touch base with their dentist.
The American Dental Association has recommended that all dentists suspend elective procedures for three weeks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
"Concentrating on emergency dental care will allow us to care for our emergency patients and alleviate the burden that dental emergencies would place on hospital emergency departments," the ADA said in a statement.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted various restrictions throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but essential businesses and services, including dentists, remain open. Still, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf encouraged these businesses to "employ social distancing practices."
Pennsylvania health officials will release additional guidance to dentists later this week, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Tuesday.
"Dentists are at significant risk of exposure to COVID-19, just in terms of providing dentistry and doing dental procedures," Levine said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends dentists postpone non-emergency procedures for patients that show typical symptoms of respiratory infection, such as sneezing or coughing. In the case of an emergency, dentists should use precaution to avoid spreading COVID-19 to other individuals.
Coronavirus symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Most illnesses are mild, but a serious illness occurs in about 16% of cases, according to initial data from China. The incubation period is believed to be 2-14 days.
Older people and those with underlying health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, appear to be at a greater risk for developing a serious illness, according to the CDC.
There are more than 4,000 coronavirus cases in the U.S., including 75 deaths, according to the CDC. Pennsylvania currently has 96 cases, with the vast majority occurring in the Philadelphia suburbs.
There are 267 cases in New Jersey, including three deaths. Burlington County has five case, Camden County has three and Gloucester County has two.