WHO revises advice on COVID-19 and the provision of oral health services

WHO guideline dentistry COVID-19
Photo: seventyfour-74, 123rf

After successful representation by the FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) along with the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), the WHO guideline, Considerations for the provision of essential oral health services in the context of COVID-19, now refers to ‘non-urgent’ rather than ‘non-essential’ oral health care. 

This welcome change follows the initial release of the guideline in August which sought to provide advice for the management of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Among a number of concerns raised about the guideline, which included its generic nature and relevance given it did not take into consideration the local context and effectiveness in managing the pandemic, was the original wording of this paragraph: 

“WHO advises that routine non-essential oral health care—which usually includes oral health check-ups, dental cleanings and preventive care—be delayed until there has been sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates from community transmission to cluster cases or according to official recommendations at national, sub-national or local level.” 

The ADA and a number of other national dental associations voiced their concern about the use of the words ‘non-essential’ with the FDI contacting WHO and stressing that routine oral healthcare is essential for the early detection, prevention and control of oral diseases. 

Working with WHO, FDI and IADR were able to work towards what they term “a more accurate and appropriate wording for the guideline” with ‘non-essential’ changed to ‘non-urgent’. 

In announcing this important win for world dentistry, FDI thanks their members across the globe for their solidarity in finding effective solutions to the public health threat posed by the COVID-19 epidemic. 

This article was sourced from the ADA News & Media website.

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