Minnesota Dental Association is urging patients to reach out to their clinics to determine when and how to safely receive care or treatment.

MINNEAPOLIS — Beginning May 11, 2020, Minnesota dental clinics may reopen and/or resume providing non-emergency dental procedures in accordance with Executive Order 20-51. The order allows dental clinics to resume many currently delayed procedures once facilities have adequately planned to prioritize the ongoing COVID-19 response; develop criteria for determining which procedures should proceed during the COVID-19 pandemic; and provide a safe environment for facility staff, patients, and visitors.

“Infection control has always been a top priority for Minnesota dentists. Following guidelines from the Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Board of Dentistry is not a new practice for the profession,” says Carmelo Cinqueonce, Executive Director of the Minnesota Dental Association. “Patients can expect to see increased safety precautions at clinics that address needs to incorporate additional social distancing and virus mitigation measures. Decisions to resume seeing patients beyond emergency care are being made on a clinic-by-clinic basis; patients should feel comfortable in reaching out to their dental provider to find out what they can expect at their next visit.”

In addition to completing required plans, considerations presented to clinics include:

Pre-appointment Procedures

  • Asking patients to fill out any necessary paperwork at home prior to coming to the office, and if possible, returning forms electronically
  • Collecting payment electronically or by phone ahead of the appointment
  • Advising patients of changes in protocols that they will notice at their appointment and that have been implemented for their safety so they are prepared when they arrive

In-office Patient Procedures

  • Limiting the number of patients allowed in the clinic at one time
  • Staggering appointment times to minimize patients arriving and departing at the same times for appointments
  • Removing shared/community items from waiting and registration areas
  • Increasing space or use of barrier between patients undergoing treatments that produce aerosols

Staff Protection Strategies

  • Adapting workspaces, break rooms, and other shared spaces to allow for social distancing
  • Increasing cleaning and sanitation procedures
  • Screening of employees and patients before entry into clinic

Additional Background

Since the issuance of Executive Orders 20-09, 20-16, and 20-17, Minnesota has made and continues to make significant headway in securing additional personal protection equipment (PPE) and improving testing and hospital surge capacity, which now allows our healthcare facilities to take important steps toward providing a wider range of clinically necessary care, including dental care.

Although postponement of non-essential or elective procedures has proven to be an effective means of preserving essential healthcare resources for the COVID-19 response, Minnesota Department of Health guidance released along with Executive Order 20-51 also recognized that extended delays in the provision of certain care may pose substantial risks to patients. Non-essential or elective procedures are often clinically necessary, for example, to treat chronic pain and conditions or to prevent, cure, or slow the progression of diseases. On April 19, 2020, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidance encouraging states to resume the provision of non-essential, non-COVID-19 care to patients as clinically appropriate and within states, localities, or facilities that have the resources to provide such care and the ability to quickly respond to a surge in COVID-19 cases, if necessary. The guidance recommends careful planning and preparation, including ongoing monitoring of state and regional COVID-19 cases and symptoms and ensuring adequate availability of healthcare facilities, workforces, testing, and supplies.

The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing practicing dentists. It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans. You can learn more at www.mndental.org.