Clarifying the WHO assistance on dental care during COVID-19: An job interview with Dr. Julie Hawley

On August 3, 2020, the Environment Health Corporation (WHO) revealed a steering for the administration of

On August 3, 2020, the Environment Health Corporation (WHO) revealed a steering for the administration of oral health care in the course of COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, US media started to report that the WHO had advisable delaying “non-crucial” dental treatment all through the pandemic. From there, it was not extensive prior to dental associations from A to Z began issuing statements that chided the WHO for its advice.

But was this substantially ado about nothing? Upon even further evaluation, the WHO steerage may well have been extra nuanced than in the beginning documented. I experienced a chance to communicate with Julie Hawley, PhD, CAE, the director of analytics and evaluation at the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, about the origins of the WHO controversy. Dr. Hawley and her colleagues are searching for to clarify the guidance, as its misinterpretation may well be producing people to delay dental care unnecessarily. I also spoke with Dr. Hawley about how dental experts could make perception of the numerous competing suggestions that have been released to date.

This is what Dr. Hawley experienced to say.


Interview with Dr. Julie Hawley

ZK: The latest WHO steerage for dental care for the duration of COVID-19 was met with unfavorable reviews by lots of dental pros and associations in the US. Nevertheless, there are other folks who imagine the WHO direction was extensively misinterpreted, which led to pointless alarm for people and suppliers. Can you explain the character of the controversy and how the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Progression is searching for to clarify the WHO advice for the gain of the dental neighborhood?

Julie Hawley, PhD, CAEJulie Hawley, PhD, CAEDr. Hawley: The new WHO guidance been given a good deal of media interest and protection, but several did not read further than the headlines, which contributed to the confusion. Furthermore, considerably of the protection did not handle the complete messaging from the WHO and took some statements out of context. That’s why we believed it was crucial for the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Improvement to difficulty a assertion and enable make clear the advice. In our statement, we noted that the WHO assistance specifically defers to suggestions at the countrywide and regional ranges. In the US, direction on furnishing dental treatment is issued from the federal Facilities for Sickness Regulate and Prevention (CDC) and other corporations. The CDC’s guidance on infection management for dental configurations is constantly up to date as new proof and know-how about COVID-19 emerges. And, there is no scarcity of steerage being issued on COVID-19 protocols at the state and regional stages.

We know how crucial preventive oral health care is to general health, and we didn’t want people to view the WHO assistance as an all-out ban on preventive dental visits in the US. Somewhat, the WHO steerage is meant for nations around the world that do not have the similar infrastructure to offer countrywide and condition-specific steerage. In the US, we are lucky to have means that give extra specific and tailor-made guidance primarily based on nearby situations. Ultimately, the selection about when and how to return to the dentist for preventive treatment is one that wants to be created by folks, and unnecessarily delaying preventive treatment can lead to extended term oral health—and total health—problems.     

ZK: There are a amount of corporations that have tried to present aid to the dental group all through the COVID-19 pandemic. This has developed worries for dental practitioners and health-care final decision makers, as often tips look incongruent with 1 a further. What do you sense have been the principal troubles in achieving the dental group and giving management in these unsure times, and how have DentaQuest and some others tried using to meet up with individuals troubles?

Dr. Hawley: For the duration of the pandemic, there has been a great deal of good get the job done done to deal with what is and is not permitted and how treatment can be shipped safely and securely, but it is not constantly straightforward to have an understanding of, and we’re operating in a fluid and altering ecosystem. The CDC, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the American Dental Affiliation, and the American Dental Hygienists’ Affiliation have all made and are often updating unique guidance, and it is not quick for companies to keep up with it all. 

Alternatively than building our personal guidance, the DentaQuest Partnership saw an option to support suppliers conveniently keep up to day with all the most up-to-date facts from these companies. We labored with the Corporation for Safety Asepsis and Prevention, the major qualified corporation in infection manage in dentistry, to collate all of the guidance disseminated by these businesses and establish a extensive established of greatest practices for dental providers to ensure a protected return to preventive dental treatment for all. Collectively, we produced straightforward checklists addressing all the significant aspects of securely partaking in dental observe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These finest practices are regularly current to mirror all improvements in advice, so vendors can be confident that they are up to day. And so that clients could reward from the exact details, we made a very similar companion piece for clients.

We also expanded our webinar collection and on the internet understanding centre to help dentists’ return to perform, like the progress of a new COVID-19 training series that involves the following totally free classes:

  • An infection Control and Preventive Care Throughout a Nationwide Health Care Disaster
  • Teledentistry: Delivering Option Treatment Through a Public Health Crisis
  • An infection Handle: Issues & Responses About COVID-19
  • Saliva and COVID-19 Testing in Clinical Dental Practice
  • Ideal Procedures for An infection Management in Dental Clinics

For the duration of the pandemic, we’ve found elevated registration counts and participation in these offerings, which appear with free of charge continuing instruction credits and are effortless for dentists to obtain.

ZK: As we tactic the sixth thirty day period of the pandemic in the United States, what do you consider are the important concerns for dental pros going forward? Put another way, has the pandemic designed any prospects to rethink how the dental occupation can increase itself?

Dr. Hawley: The pandemic has created a substantial affect on all industries, and dentistry has been strike specifically hard. Whilst issues had been really rough, specifically in the early days, difficult issues can encourage new strategies of imagining and running. And we want to seize this chance to not just adapt, but to innovate. For the reason that in dentistry, there is no “again to standard.”

The pandemic moved telehealth along by pretty much a ten years, and teledentistry is no exception. We’ve observed a good deal of motion toward applying additional teledentistry approaches to boost accessibility to care and deal with health fairness. Our investigation exhibits that people and providers are employing teledentistry and appreciate the adaptability it presents. Now that numerous have gotten a flavor of what teledentistry can present, the momentum is in place to retain and expand it. Patients like it. Vendors like it. It’s right here to remain.

A further optimistic transform we’re viewing is additional motion amid providers and health-treatment methods towards alternate payment versions. The early days of the pandemic unveiled a hole in the common payment construction, in which a service provider is paid out for companies shipped. For the reason that dental techniques were being mainly limited to providing only unexpected emergency and urgent care, income was considerably decreased. This has resulted in higher interest in price-based mostly treatment as an alternate payment model, wherever the provider’s profits is mainly dependent on trying to keep people healthy, somewhat than the range of techniques they full. This type of technique allows vendors to leverage option ways of taking care of sufferers, these as teledentistry, concentrating on minimally invasive and nonaerosol creating treatments, and then starting to engage in more comprehensive treatment.

ZK: Where can dental pros go for more beneficial details?

Dr. Hawley: We have a great deal of wonderful COVID-19 resources for suppliers, which includes analysis reviews, whitepapers and coaching at dentaquestpartnership.org. Providers can also indication-up to acquire our regular e-publication.


About the interviewee:

Julie Hawley, PhD, CAE, is the Director of Analytics and Evaluation at the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Progression, a nonprofit firm doing the job to remodel the broken health care procedure and permit better health by means of oral health. In this purpose, she is accountable for making and employing a system to completely transform info into awareness that can be applied to elevate oral health’s visibility, advise policy, care, community, and funding method conclusions, and boost consciousness about the DentaQuest Partnership’s impacts.


Zachary Kulsrud is the editorial director for Endeavor Enterprise Media’s dental team, publishers of Dental EconomicsDentistryIQPerio-Implant Advisory, and RDH magazine.