Dentists as Frontline workers during Covid-19 Pandemic

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Dentists can Assist Governments by Testing Persons for COVID-19 or Other Pandemic Ailments 

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first pandemic confronting the world community and it shall not be the last.  Although an extremely painful lesson for the world, it also provides an opportunity to prepare Canada and the rest of the international community for such future challenges.  Dental offices are prepared and can become a major partner in mass population testing during any pandemic.  From the current available information, it is very clear that the best way to contain any epidemic is do mass testing.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an international tragedy and all levels of Governments globally need to collaborate to contain it; furthermore, the world needs to be prepared for the next pandemic. Medical doctors, dentists,  pharmacists, and other allied health care professionals must become partners with Public Health and the  communities they serve, in addition to partners with all levels of Governments for mass population testing for COVID-19 and any other potential pandemic.

Dental offices have been at the forefront of infection control measures and our regulatory College, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) in collaboration with Public Health Ontario (PHO) has been an exemplary leader in this regard.  At this point, dental offices are considered the safest places to render oral health care.

It becomes incumbent on the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) and the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) to quickly work with the Provincial and Federal Ministries of Health, and all Provincial dental regulators to make dentists an equal partner in mass population testing of COVID-19.  This will reduce the burden of mass testing on our health care infrastructure.  Additionally, it will also reduce hospital visits to emergency rooms and decrease hospital admissions. 

Premier Hon. Doug Ford and Minister of Health Hon. Christine Elliot have appealed to all health professionals to come forward in helping to contain this pandemic. This is also the right time to prepare Canada to not only confront the next possible pandemic in Canada, but to set an example to the rest of the World how all health care team members can work together.  Some of the initiatives which ODA and other provincial associations, in conjunction with the CDA should focus on are:

-Ask Spartan biosciences /Abbott Laboratories (or any other potential suppliers) to make testing kits available at the earliest to dental offices across Canada.
-Collaborate with RCDSO and Canadian Regulators Association Federation (CDRAF) to impress upon the Ministry of Health in respective provinces to include these tests in the scope of dental practice.
-Develop a new fee code for these tests and the costs to administer such tests.
-Work with insurance companies to cover the cost of these tests so as to minimize the economic cost to the Government.

Drs. Sandeep Walia and Vageesh Sabharwal