Our TDA member dentists are looking to their state membership organization to be a resource at a time, when the COVID-19 virus and its deleterious effects on commerce and our economy, on our citizens and every facet of life change daily. The TDA nor the ADA is a regulatory agency and does not have the authority to order/mandate any dentist to agree to or abide by the recommendation of the ADA. However, both the ADA and TDA have our members, patients and their staff’s best interest in mind. Our reputations and livelihoods are threatened, if any dentist or their staff contracts COVID-19. The effect will be widespread and the cries from our critics will be made public. I want our members and the citizens of Tennessee to know that the TDA values life and ethics over income and has taken action to protect the spread of the virus, to our patients, ourselves, our families and to our staff. If this is the role that we are asked to contribute, then our conscience should guide our actions.
This recommendation will not be popular with those who support a staff and a family, but it is the prudent action to take in the current atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty. There are no good answers when the virility and spread of the virus threatens our way of life. No one can predict what will happen in the next 12 hours. The TDA is providing the best possible leadership in the current crisis.
Therefore, the TDA Board has voted to support the ADA recommendation to suspend services typically provided to our patients and to limit dental services to emergency care only, for a minimum of 3 weeks. Emergency care would be pain, swelling, trauma, and abscess. Hygiene visits, cosmetic and elective operative procedures are considered non-essential.
According to the TN Department of Health, the state of Tennessee has diagnosed 52 cases across 10 counties:
Campbell 1 Rutherford 1
Davidson 25 Sevier 1
Hamilton 1 Shelby 2
Jefferson 1 Sullivan 1
Knox 1 Williamson 18
The TN Department of Health expects these numbers to increase over time.
As of Tuesday, March 17, there are no mandatory governmental restrictions specific to dentistry for the state of Tennessee. As the virus spreads in our state, we may receive a mandate from state or federal agencies to extend closures.
The TDA has been in contact with the ADA and other state dental associations as well as governmental agencies to guide our decision making.
The TDA encourages all offices to be ever mindful of the best infectious disease practices possible at this time to include rigid handwashing protocol and PPE. Should the CDC, the Tennessee Dept. of Health or the Governor issue a mandate or further recommendations, we will provide updated information to our members via email and other channels as we receive it.
Currently, the ADA is recommending dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures for the next three weeks:
“The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes the unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances dentists and all health care professionals face related to growing concern about COVID-19. The ADA is deeply concerned for the health and well-being of the public and the dental team.
In order for dentistry to do its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the ADA recommends dentists nationwide postpone elective procedures for the next three weeks. Concentrating on emergency dental care will allow us to care for our emergency patients and alleviate the burden that dental emergencies would place on hospital emergency departments.
As health care professionals, it is up to dentists to make well-informed decisions about their patients and practices. The ADA is committed to providing the latest information to the profession in a useful and timely manner.”
For information regarding closure of your office and your staff, please contact your attorney or other appropriate insurance providers. Please check the ADA website for further information.
Dr. Terryl Propper