The College of General Dentistry and Faculty of General Dental Practice UK have welcomed the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme’s review of the mitigation of aerosol-generating procedures, and will be issuing updated COVID-19 guidance shortly in view of its recommendations.
The SDCEP document, published today, represents the agreed positions of a working group comprising dental professionals from across primary care, secondary care, academia and public health, in addition to expert opinion from subject specialists in particle physics, aerobiology and clinical virology. The consensus report was compiled following a review of the currently-available evidence on the generation and mitigation of aerosols in dental practice, and the associated risk of coronavirus transmission.
Among the key positions, and in contrast to those adopted to date in official protocols, the report divides dental procedures into three categories of aerosol generation potential according to the instruments used, with fallow periods recommended only for the highest risk procedures, and suggests the determination of fallow time using a multifactorial approach with a ‘benchmark’ of 15-30 minutes.
The CGDent-FGDP guidance, published in June, also set out a more nuanced approach to considering the generation of aerosols in dental practice, and while allowing for potential adjustment of fallow time, accepted a 60 minute period following procedures carrying a higher risk of exposure to potentially-infective aerosols.
Ian Mills, Trustee of CGDent and Dean of FGDP(UK) – and a member of the SDCEP’s review group – said:
“SDCEP’s review of dental AGPs has been extremely thorough, and followed a rigorous and methodical approach. Its publication is potentially a very significant moment in the recovery of dental practices in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and I commend the SDCEP Team for the hard work and dedication they have shown in producing this report.
“We welcome in particular the more refined stratification of the transmission risk inherent in types of dental procedure; the allowance for fallow time to be calculated from the cessation of the procedure; and the sophisticated approach to calculating fallow time, which considers both procedural and environmental mitigation factors such as high-volume suction, the use of rubber dam and provision of adequate air ventilation.
“These approaches align exceptionally well with our own guidance and we feel it is important that current standard operating procedures are reviewed in light of SDCEP’s recommendations. Adoption of these measures will enable the increased delivery of patient care to tackle the backlog of unmet need, and avoid further deterioration in dental access and oral health inequality. A reduction in fallow time will also support the viability of practices, while the maintenance of universal precautions will continue to keep both patients and members of the dental team safe.
“We aim to update our guidance as soon as possible, and are currently working with partners to develop an online Fallow Time Calculation Tool to support its implementation.”
SDCEP’s Mitigation of Aerosol Generating Procedures in Dentistry – A Rapid Review is available at https://www.sdcep.org.uk/published-guidance/covid-19-practice-recovery/rapid-review-of-agps.
The current CGDent-FGDP guidance, Implications of COVID-19 for the safe management of general dental practice – a practical guide, is available at https://cgdent.uk/standards-guidance.