The Dentist Magazine.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons issue guidance to protect dentists and doctors during COVID-19 pandemic

Published: 3/20/2020 12:00:00 AM

Two surgical specialty associations have come togther for the first time to protect dentists and doctors examining and treating patients who may have COVID-19 but do not yet know they are infected.

The British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (BAOMS) and the British Association of Oral Surgeons (BAOS) have issued guidance calling on their members to protect themselves with FFP3 masks.

Evidence from China, Italy and the UK highlights the risk to doctors and dentists because they have to put their faces close to those of their patients to treat them. ENT (ears, nose and throat) and eye specialists have had higher infection rates than any other doctors. In the UK some ENT doctors are very seriously ill with COVID-19 that they caught from patients. The BAOMS and BAOS say that only the best face mask, the FFP3, should be used for examining and treating even symptom-free patients.

BAOMS chair Patrick Magennis said, “The risk for both oral and maxillofacial surgeons and our oral surgery colleagues is clear. Without symptoms we cannot recognise the patients who are infected. If we can’t protect ourselves, we should not be taking the chance because we need to keep well to treat others.”

BAOS president Paul Coulthard said, “There are limited supplies of FFP3 masks. Until we have enough, oral surgeons and dentists have to avoid contact with patients by cancelling elective activity, restricting patient care to a minimum and keeping visits as short as possible – avoid, restrict and abbreviate. This is the message for our profession.”

Patrick Magennis added, “When I was at dental school in the 80s, dentists did not wear gloves, not even for surgery. Some professors at that time said that dentistry was impossible wearing gloves. I am afraid now that there are some patients who have COVID-19, and are symptom-free, FFP3 masks are as essential as gloves for examination and treatment.”

Full information is available on both the BAOMS and BAOS websites.