BCDA COVID-19 Dental Care Resource Information and Media Statements
Letter to the Editor, November 1, Comox Valley Record
BCDA responded publicly to a Letter to the Editor in the Oct. 27 Comox Valley Record, in which a patient criticized a local dental practice for not disclosing the vaccination status of their staff. BCDA provided a written response to the publication, which is now on the newspaper’s website. The letter emphasized the stringent infection control procedures, and additional COVID-19 protocols BC dental teams are employing. View the original letter.
Statement, October 15: Private Dental Offices Currently Excluded from PHO Order
The British Columbia Dental Association supports the Provincial Health Officer’s order requiring all health professionals working within public health care settings, including dentists working in hospitals, long term care facilities etc., to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 26, 2021.
The order includes a notice that this will apply to health professionals and staff in private settings, including dentistry, at some point in the future. Our position, as stated on September 24 is that all health care workers should be vaccinated to reduce the prevalence and harms of COVID-19 and bring an end to this pandemic.
As oral health care professionals, it is our duty to protect the health of our patients and staff. While the dental profession’s established infection control measures are outstanding, it must do everything possible to reduce the severity of illness and bring the case count down, including being vaccinated against COVID-19.
BCDA stands in strong support with the Provincial Health Officer, the Ministry of Health, and College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia.
Statement, September 24: Position on COVID-19 Vaccination for Health Care Workers, Including Oral Health Care Professionals
The British Columbia Dental Association (BCDA) Board of Directors have agreed, after careful deliberation, to stand in strong support with the Canadian Dental Association, BC Centre for Disease Control, and Doctors of BC in the position that COVID-19 vaccines are science-based, safe, effective and have been thoroughly investigated; and support the call to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for BC health care workers, including oral health care professionals.
Earlier this year, at the request of members, BCDA successfully advocated for dentists to receive the COVID-19 vaccine earlier than the general public, and to also become vaccine administrators.
This reflects our commitment, as health care providers, to protect the health of patients as well as dentists and staff. We have seen first-hand what vaccines have done to reduce the severity of illness and the number of cases. While our recommendation is non-binding, with the highly transmissible Delta variant now being the dominant strain in BC, BCDA strongly recommends and encourages our members and their staff to get vaccinated.
Statement, March 10: BCDA is pleased with the BC Government’s decision to include community-based dentists and their clinical staff teams in Phase 2 of the vaccine roll-out. While all vaccine delivery is dependent on vaccine supply and logistical planning in each health authority, dentists in the Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health authority regions have been invited to book vaccination appointments. Dentists have also been approved as vaccinators in the Provincial Health Officer’s February 23 Public Health Order.
BCDA has no position on which specific vaccine is used for dentists and their clinical teams; and appreciates the effort required by each health authority to deliver the vaccine roll-out as quickly as possible.
Dentists safely administer injections several times a day as a regular part of their practice and can competently support the government's immunization effort. Our members are pleased to contribute to this critical community service that will benefit all British Columbians.
Statement, February 24: The British Columbia Dental Association (BCDA) welcomes Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer's public health order that dentists across the province will assist in delivering BC's COVID-19 mass community vaccination plan. Dentists safely administer injections several times a day as a regular part of their practice and can competently support the government's immunization effort. BCDA will gladly assist in recruiting its members for this critically important community service.
Clarification of COVID-19 Mask Mandate for Dental Patients
On December 18, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC clarified how the mask order issued by Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer on November 24 applies to dental patients. Under the order, a patient (or anyone else) visiting a dental office is expected to wear a mask regardless of their ability to maintain physical distance of two meters. The mask does not need to be medical grade. Non-medical masks for patients and visitors are acceptable.
Dentists and dental teams have been experts at infection control for a long time. As we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic in BC, dental patients have an important role to play in keeping everyone safe.
Dental patients are asked to:
contact the dental office in advance of any visit and advise them if you are at all unwell or have any COVID-19 symptoms, have had close contact or have been in isolation with a suspected case, or have traveled outside Canada in the last 14 days
complete a patient screening form in advance of your visit
clean your hands
limit your wait time in the office and/or wait outside the office if you are accompanying another person to the appointment
observe physical distancing requirements in the dental office, before and after, treatment
observe any other policies or procedures noted by your dental office
wear a mask in the dental office until otherwise instructed by dental staff
On behalf of our members, we thank patients for their understanding and patience as dental offices adapt to new office changes to meet evolving public health policies.
We're all in this together!
Dentists have always been experts at infection control and have COVID-19 policies and procedures in place to keep everyone safe.
Please ensure you contact the dental office by phone before you visit and disclose if you are not well or have any COVID-19 symptoms. To comply with physical distancing requirements, many dental offices may continue to provide initial consultations over the phone.
In The News
This list of recent articles on COVID-19 and oral health is provided as a public service, and does not represent an endorsement of the views expressed.
The BC government has launched a COVID-19 Support App Self-Assessment Tool to provide information or determine if you may need testing. The app can be installed on smartphones or viewed as a website. A dedicated information phone line is also available for people who want to check their health status. The toll-free line is open at 1-888-268-4319 (1-888-COVID19) 7:30am - 8pm PST seven days a week for non-medical information about COVID-19, including information on travel and physical distancing, and access to support and services from the provincial and federal governments.
Can COVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?
According to the WHO, the main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing or has other symptoms such as fever or tiredness, loss of sense of smell or taste, or loss of appetite. However, many people with the disease experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true in the early stages of the disease; it is possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, a mild cough and does not feel ill.
Some reports have indicated that people with no symptoms can transmit the virus; it is not yet known how often it happens. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.
How does COVID-19 spread?
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), COVID-19 is spread by the respiratory droplets an infected person produces when they breathe, cough, sneeze, talk, or sing. If you are in contact with an infected person, the virus can enter your body if droplets get into your throat, nose, or eyes.
Droplets come in a wide range of sizes and behave differently depending on their size. Larger droplets are heavier, and they usually fall to the ground within two meters. Smaller droplets, also known as aerosols, are lighter and they can float in the air for longer. Smaller droplets can collect in enclosed spaces when there is not enough fresh air.
BCCDC recommends several ways to reduce transmissions: getting immunized, staying home when sick, visiting others outdoors or in small groups, wearing masks in indoor public spaces, increasing ventilation, and cleaning your hands.
The BCCDC is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings here.
Should I go to the dentist?
Dental patients who have the following symptoms or respiratory illness should not go to the dentist:
Fever, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, loss of appetite, or acute respiratory illness (with or without pneumonia) OR
Close contact with a confirmed or probably case of COVID-19 OR
Other potentially relevant exposure such as close contact with someone who was ill and had traveled outside of Canada in the 14 days before the onset of symptoms.
If you meet any of the criteria above, please contact your dentist to be assessed by phone and please contact HealthlinkBC at 8-1-1 to be assessed for testing, and/or call ahead to your primary health care provide or walk-in clinic and arrange for assessment by medical staff.
If they begin to show symptoms during their quarantine, are exposed to another traveller with symptoms, or test positive for COVID-19, they must begin an additional 14 days of isolation, and should connect with their primary care provider, local public health office or call 8-1-1.
Should I wear a mask?
On July 1, 2021 BC moved to Step 3 of the BC Restart Plan, and the mask mandate order (PDF)under the Emergency Program Act was lifted. The government of BC recommends masks be used in indoor public places for all people 12 and older who are not yet fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination does not need to be requested by service providers, and some people may choose to continue to wear a mask after they're fully vaccinated.
BCCDC offers a downloadable information sheet on different types of masks as well as updated information on the wearing, cleaning and disposing of masks here.
Will wearing a mask cause dental problems?
Currently, there are no studies or scientific literature on the effects of wearing a mask on oral health. However, mask wearing can make the effects of poor oral hygiene even more pronounced. Bad breath is caused by an increase in bacteria, which is found in plaque and tartar, and can be more noticeable to someone when they are wearing a mask. Drinking less water because of having to wear a mask can cause a dry mouth which in turn can lead to bad breath.
Tips to avoid "mask mouth":
Brush your teeth at least twice every day.
Floss between your teeth every day.
Don’t forget to brush your tongue too.
Drink lots of water throughout the day – stay hydrated.
Chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow.
Visit the dentist for your regular dental exam and professional dental cleaning.