ADHA Releases Interim Guidance on
Returning to Work

What’s New? 8/7/2020

On August 4, 2020, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released revised, “Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Dental Settings
During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.” Key points of the guidance:

  • Recognize dental settings have unique characteristics that warrant specific infection control considerations.
  • Prioritize the most critical dental services and provide care in a way that minimizes harm to patients from delaying care and harm to personnel and patients from potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The revisions made substantive changes to the guidance, including updated the definition of fever to either measured temperature ≥100.0°F or subjective fever to align with CDC’s larger body of work related to COVID-19. Also, the revisions added language that protective eyewear (e.g., safety glasses, trauma glasses) with gaps between glasses and the face likely do not protect eyes from all splashes and sprays and the revisions included additional guidance on physical distancing and how to respond to SARS-CoV-2 exposures among DHCP and other.

Additionally, in areas with moderate to substantial community transmission, during patient encounters with patients not suspected of SARS-CoV-2 infection, CDC recommends that dental healthcare personnel (DHCP):

  • Wear eye protection in addition to their facemask to ensure the eyes, nose, and mouth are all protected from exposure to respiratory secretions during patient care encounters, including those where splashes and sprays are not anticipated.
  • Use an N95 respirator or a respirator that offers an equivalent or higher level of protection during aerosol generating procedures.

You may view the complete CDC Interim Guidance for Dental Settings here.


View the Report Here


In order to protect the dental hygienist, the dental team and patients, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) continues to support the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that balance the need to provide necessary services while minimizing risk to patients and dental healthcare personnel (DHCP). Consider if elective procedures, surgeries, and non-urgent outpatient visits should be postponed in certain circumstances. Provide dental treatment only after you have assessed the patient and considered both the risk to the patient of deferring care and the risk to DHCP and patients of healthcare-associated SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

ADHA has developed this document to provide ongoing interim guidance to dental hygienists on returning to work. Information from the CDC’s Guidance for Dental Settings is included throughout the document and appears in an orange box.

As licensed health care providers, dental hygienists have a responsibility to uphold the highest standards of clinical practice to ensure the health and safety of the individuals they serve and the team members with whom they interact.

The following considerations have been prepared utilizing guidelines, regulations and resources from key resources including, but not limited to, CDC, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP).

ADHA recommends that all dental hygienists follow the Standards for Clinical Dental Hygiene Practice, which state that dental hygienists “follow the most current guidelines to reduce the risks of health-care-associated infections in patients and illnesses and injuries in health care personnel.”

It is also recommended that all dental hygienists review the ADHA Code of Ethics and verify that their individual malpractice insurance is current prior to returning to work.

DHCP should apply the guidance found in the Framework for Healthcare Systems Providing Non-COVID-19 Clinical Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic to determine how and when to resume non-emergency dental care. . Dental Healthcare Personnel (DHCP) should stay informed and regularly consult with the state or local health department for region-specific information and recommendations. Monitor trends in local case counts and deaths, especially for populations at higher risk for severe illness.

Consult with local public health authority and state officials to determine COVID-19 prevalence and risk level. If there is a surge in incidence of COVID-19, consider providing emergency services only.