In light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s COVID-19 Order No. 67 pertaining to COVID-19 mask requirements, the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) would like to provide members an update for how these guidelines may impact dental practice in the Commonwealth.
Effective May 29, 2021, the Commonwealth’s face-covering order will be rescinded. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) will issue a new face-covering advisory consistent with the CDC’s updated guidance. Face coverings will still be mandatory for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals at all times in health care facilities and provider offices, defined as health care facilities or providers licensed or operated by the Commonwealth including nursing homes, rest homes, emergency medical services, hospitals, doctors’ offices, urgent care settings, community health centers, vaccination sites, behavioral health clinics, and Bureau of Substance and Addiction Services facilities. This requirement applies to patients and staff.
Aside from the updated mask guidance, dental practices are encouraged to use their best professional judgment to maintain an up-to-date mitigation strategy to protect the safety and well-being of their workforce and practice. Mitigation strategies may include:
- Routine health screenings such as COVID-19-related questions and temperature checks. Clinicians may choose to include questions related to COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, recent diagnostics, and vaccinations. If dental personnel, patients, or any members of the public have any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, please refer them to the following resources:
- Air filtration systems
- Secondary barriers, such as plexiglass partitions
- Controlled dental practice workflow, such as single-use entrances and exits, restricted waiting room use, and limitations on visitors
It is important to remember that patients are likely to continue to expect heightened safety protocols throughout their dental experience.
Members are encouraged to review CDC guidance to safeguard the well-being of all dental personnel and maintain the health and safety of the public.
As a reminder, per DPH Phase 4 reopening guidance, health care providers must continue to:
- Restrict the number of health care workers in the treatment space to those individuals necessary to complete the service or procedure for the patient.
- Have a written protocol in place for screening all employees for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entering the facility or office.
- Adopt policies that address health care workers’ safety and well-being.
- Ensure providers and staff can socially distance to the maximum extent possible.
The MDS will continue to advise members as new information becomes available.