COVID-19: Restrictions on dental practice

23 March 2020

Over the last few days, the ADA has been providing expert advice to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the Chief Medical Officer on a framework to support the continuation of essential dental service.  This is based on a staged, proportionate, pre-planned response to the escalation of COVID-19.

We have been working with the government who is satisfied at this time that the frameworks that have been developed and the work of the ADA Infection Control Committee are sufficient at this point in time to protect the public, dentists and their staff given the current risk environment. We believe that it’s important that we partner with government and regulators to continue to ensure everyone is kept safe in these unprecedented and challenging times.

Last night I met with the Presidents and CEOs of every ADA Branch and we agree that the profession can ensure an appropriate and informed response that best meets the interest of the Australian community while keeping ourselves and our staff safe.

It appears the government will continue to consider dental services as essential as long as they are provided safely. The ADA’s advice is that dental practices should immediately restrict dental treatment to non-aerosol generating procedures and consider the type of patients that receive treatment wherever possible (Level 2) restrictions as per this framework.

State and territory health departments may place further restrictions on dental practices and we strongly advise you to keep abreast of both the Federal ADA and your state or territory Branch advice which will include specific guidance on the type of services that can be provided at a state level.

The ADA previously provided access to COVID-19 resources to other dental health associations for their members but in recognition of the seriousness of the situation and the stress and uncertainty, all practitioners and staff are facing we have now made all resources relating to COVID-19 publicly available.  

It’s important to practice safely and level two restrictions are necessary in order to do so at this time. We are providing this advice to members having consulted the regulator and government. The decision to issue this advice has not been taken lightly. We are fully aware of the challenging situation it puts all of us in, but with the rate of infection continuing to grow and the spread of COVID-19 via asymptomatic patients, the ADA leadership unanimously agree we must take this proactive step.

Personal Protective Equipment
With the global shortage of masks and access to some other PPE being rationed or becoming more difficult to secure, it is imperative you maintain our usual high infection control standards to minimise the risk of transmission. If you do not have all PPE required to practice safely you should apply Level 5 restrictions and contact the ADA to see if we can help connect you with what you need.
Human Resources
It’s possible that the application of these measures will have implications for practice staff. In these difficult times it is essential we do everything we can to take care of ourselves and each other and make decisions with compassion and understanding.

The ADA’s HR Advisory team have prepared specific advice in relation to staffing changes for practice owners, employees, and those operating under the state system in Western Australia.

Please read this information before contacting the ADA’s HR hotline.  
Financial Support
Changes to circumstances are likely to put a financial strain on both practice owners and anyone employed by the practice as staffing arrangements change in response to the pandemic. The government has announced a range of support measures for individuals and businesses and the ADA has provided additional financial information, which we’ll continue to build upon as announcements are made by the government, banks, and the private financial sector.
Mental Health & wellbeing
No matter what role you play in the practice, the pandemic can create stress and have an impact on our mental health and wellbeing. It is more important than ever that we are kind to ourselves and to each other.

It’s recommended the entire team read the information available on mental health & wellbeing.