The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Thursday advised local government units (LGUs) to ensure that dental offices followed public health protocols and that dentists used protective personal equipment (PPE).

Interior chief Eduardo Año said the close exposure of dentists to patients’ orifices, such as the nose and the mouth, posed virus transmission risks.

“The nature of dental operation requires close proximity of a dentist and a patient. Kaya lalong dapat magsuot ng PPE ang mga dentist para sa kanilang kaligtasan at ng kanilang mga pasyente,” he explained.

In an advisory issued to all LGUs, Año told governors and mayors to require oral health professionals in their respective jurisdictions to comply to the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) interim guidelines on infection prevention amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The guidelines provide precautionary steps for dental clinics, such as patient screening, preparation of the dental facility team and standard layers of defense against Covid-19, which includes management of hazardous wastes.

“Amid our country’s efforts against the spread of Covid-19, we cannot ignore other serious concerns that need to be addressed, including dental health. The DILG recognizes that oral health is just as important and is part of overall health,” Año said.

PDA guidelines state that before holding face-to-face consultations, dentists should conduct an inventory of their PPE supplies and schedule an appointment with patients according to PPE availability.

Clinics should also post visual reminders for patients to wear masks, avoid touching the face, do hand sanitization, observe cough etiquette and maintain physical distancing.

The full PDA guidelines can be accessed here. John Ezekiel J. Hirro