From guidance to advocacy, organized dentistry continues to do its part during pandemic
Editor’s note: Explore a one-year interactive timeline, COVID-19 and Dentistry, on how the profession responded to the challenges of the pandemic at ADA.org/covidtimeline.
When the ADA Board of Trustees was deliberating to recommend that dentists focus solely on urgent and emergency treatment in March 2020, there were still many unknowns.
“The science was evolving,” said ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., who was serving as president-elect at the time. “The vast majority of Americans were not even wearing face masks yet.”
However, the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak was accelerating, and just five days before the ADA issued its postponement recommendation, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
“At that time, public health directives centered on flattening the curve — using social distancing and isolation to help mitigate disease spread and alleviate the burden on overwhelmed hospital systems,” Dr. Klemmedson said.
It was on March 16, 2020, that the ADA Board of Trustees voted to recommend that dentists postpone all but emergency and urgent care. By the week of March 23, 2020, about 76% of dentists had closed their offices to all but emergency patients, according to the ADA Health Policy Institute.
“It was certainly a difficult moment for many dental practices,” Dr. Klemmedson said.
Fast-forward 12 months later, and the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in the U.S. is ramping up with most states including dentists and their teams in Phase 1a to receive the vaccine. At least 26 states are allowing dentists to administer the vaccine.