Be prepared for COVID-19, but don’t panic, says Indian Dental Association
MUMBAI, India: Dental colleges in India are currently closed, and dental clinics across the country have been advised to suspend all non-essential treatment. Both of these measures are in effect until at least 31 March. The latest advice from the Indian Dental Association (IDA) to dental practitioners is to exercise caution and make well-informed decisions about patient care and in the operation of their dental practices.
In a 17 March bulletin from the IDA captioned “Be prepared … but don’t panic”, the association strongly recommended that the country’s dental fraternity voluntarily suspend all dental care services that are non-essential or non-urgent. The association said that it had issued the guidance out of concern for the health and well-being of both the public and dental practitioners.
IDA President Dr Ravindar Singh advised dentists and their teams “to be cautious during this serious outbreak and concentrate on emergency dental care”, and the association’s honorary secretary general, Dr Ashok Dhoble, added that dentists and their teams must remain alert and identify patients suffering from acute respiratory illness. “[As] healthcare professionals, dentists are advised to make well-informed decisions about their patients and practices,” Dhoble added.
The IDA is monitoring the developing public health situation and said that it would continue to provide updates on its website as they become available.
On 17 March, the Dental Council of India advised dental colleges to halt all college activities, including classes, seminars, workshops and camps, until 31 March. The council also issued clinical practice guidelines for dental teams on 17 March, and these included the following recommendations:
1. Every patient should be scrubbed with isopropyl alcohol extra-orally.
2. A preprocedural rinse with povidone-iodine should be used by every patient.
3. N95 masks or at least three-ply masks should be worn, as well as protective eyewear, a head cap and a face shield.
4. Dental clinics should be fumigated periodically.
The IDA also has preventive guidelines for dental teams, and these can be accessed here.
By 24 March, there had been 519 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India and nine deaths had been attributed to the respiratory illness, according to the World Health Organization.
Editorial note: India and its 1.3 billion inhabitants were put into a three-week lockdown as this article went to press. The lockdown was ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and came into effect on 25 March. The repercussions of the order for dental practices in the country are not yet known. Dr Rajeev Chitguppi, executive editor of Dental Tribune South Asia Edition, contributed to this report.