The Latest COVID-19 News and Updates Impacting Oral Healthcare

The CDC updated its dental app, the HHS stopped accepting COVID-19 claims, and the ADA urged lawmakers to include dentistry in preparation strategies for the next pandemic.

By Genni Burkhart

 

There are some new tools and resources targeted toward oral healthcare professionals in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as legislation (or lack thereof) that has the potential to impact oral healthcare funding and dentists directly.

CDC Dental Check App

On March 21st the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) launched the app CDC Dental Check to help dental practices ensure they're meeting the most up-to-date infection control standards.

While the CDC can only make recommendations (your own state dental board sets specific requirements and regulations), this app is intended for the infection prevention coordinator or other dental staff trained in infection prevention to periodically assess staff practices and ensure the minimum expectations for safe care are being met. The CDC recommends, at the very least, annual use of this app to assess the status of their administrative policies and practices, as well as to ensure the most updated patient-care practices are in use. This app was developed directly from the Infection Prevention Checklist for Dental Settings and can be downloaded for free on iOS and Android devices.

Dental Funding in Jeopardy

Due to the lack of legislation passed by Congress, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Covid-19 Uninsured Program will stop accepting claims for COVID-19 testing and treatment.

Without funding, one healthcare executive reportedly said it could lead to cuts in dental programs to make up the costs. Vicki Soule, CEO of Treasure Coast Community Health in Vero Beach, Fla., is quoted in an article by Alex Rouff at Bloomberg Law as stating that "cutting back on programs such as dental services for the uninsured may be necessary to continue COVID programs." She goes on to say, "there's very effective treatments we can offer but we'll have to bear the cost of it."

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, COVID-19 vaccination claims stopped being accepted as of April 5th by the Uninsured Program (UIP).

The ADA Urges Lawmakers to Include Dentistry in Pandemic Preparedness

On March 17th, the American Dental Association (ADA) wrote lawmakers and thanked them for including oral healthcare priorities in the bipartisan Cures 2.0 Act introduced by Diana DeGette, D-Colo. and Fred Upton, R-Mich.

In the letter, the ADA points out the critical role dentistry has played in responding to the country’s "medical surge capacity." Specifically, the ADA notes that the federal government granted pharmacists the ability to order and administer COVID-19 tests but failed to do so for dentists – while 24 states and the District of Columbia did. The letter goes on to state this issue can be avoided in the future if dentists are included in the Cures 2.0 Act as an "essential part of the response strategy for future pandemics" as well as being recognized as vaccine administrators.

The ADA also emphasizes the importance of oral health education for caregivers and patients, the ability of telehealth to expand the reach of care ­– especially for children, and that dental research is a spark for the economy.

COVID-19 Impact Survey on Dentistry

In January of this year, the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI) began conducting a monthly poll of dentists across the U.S. to measure the economic impact of the pandemic on their practices, as well as collect their opinions on issues affecting them. This is a broader continuation of a previous poll the HPI conducted from the onset of the pandemic until December of last year. If you're interested in contributing, you can find a link to this survey here.

In Conclusion

Dentists have proven throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that they're a valuable (if sometimes overlooked) resource in healthcare. In addition to the ADA strongly urging Congress to act with oral healthcare in mind, they've provided a tool where dentists can directly contribute what has impacted them most over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic – helping to ensure the voices and value of oral healthcare are heard.

Author: With over 12 years as a published journalist, editor, and writer Genni Burkhart’s career has spanned politics, healthcare, law, business, finance, technology, and news. She resides on the western shores of the idyllic Puget Sound where she works as the Editor in Chief for the Incisor at DOCS Education out of Seattle, WA.

DOCS Membership

Upcoming Events
Atlanta, GA skyline
GA
August 19- 20, 2022
Streaming
October 07- 08, 2022

More Articles