Dentistry during Luzon lockdown: Emergency procedures only, triaging before treatment

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A dentist wearing a double mouth mask and a face screen treats a patient at a dentist cabinet in Gavere, on April 6, 2020. Belgium goes into its fourth week of confinement amid the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Nicolas Maeterlinck / Belga / AFP

MANILA – Filipino dentists are looking at a new norm of their practice amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Dental Association said Monday.

The group earlier told dentists to defer for the meantime elective procedures and only do emergency cases.

This is because dental procedures produce aerosols or droplets, which may carry the virus, said the group's president Dr. Stephen Almonte.

"Since meron tayong pandemic and the nature of this virus is different from other infections that we encounter in our dental clinic, our advice is to only perform emergency procedures," he told radio DZMM.

"We’re really looking at a new norm as far as the practice of dentistry is concerned in the Philippines…Dapat itaas ang antas ng infection control dito sa Pilipinas."

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In the new norm of dental practice, dentists would need to triage or classify a patient and ask for his travel history, Almonte said.

"Kailangan kausapin muna ang pasyente, alamin ang history of travel at ang companion sa dental clinic. As much as possible dapat walang kasama," he said.

Dentists should screen patients by phone before confirming an appointment to avoid close contact with persons infected with COVID-19, the group earlier said.

Should the patient meet the requirements for urgent dental care, the PDA advises dentists to require them to fill up a screening form, including all of their companions. No-contact screening may also be performed.

The group, meantime, appealed to government to also give assistance to dentists whose incomes are affected by the Luzon lockdown, set to end April 30.

"We’re really asking the government to also look into the possibility of helping our dentists. Hindi lahat ng dentist are well-off, 'yung iba po namamasukan pa lang," Almonte said.

Patients in need of consultation may visit the group's official Facebook page or contact it through Viber at 09228841391.

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