Considering that patients who are asymptomatic may still be COVID-19 infectious, it should be assumed that all patients can transmit disease. Use the highest level of PPE available when treating patients to reduce the risk of exposure. Dentists must exercise their independent professional judgment and carefully consider the availability of appropriate PPE to minimize risk of virus transmission.
CDC reminds dentists to,
“Ensure that you have the appropriate amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to support your patient volume. If PPE and supplies are limited, prioritize dental care for the highest need, most vulnerable patients first.”
American Dental Association
The ADA has been working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other government agencies on PPE for dental professionals. ADA will send an email to members on Thursday, August 27, 2020, inviting dentists to request an additional 50 KN95 masks and 25 level 1 non-surgical polyester isolation gowns. The system only allows dentists to order what they are eligible to order.
- Registration remains open to nonmembers in every state, except students and international dentists, for the original allotment of 25 masks.
- Member dentists who did not receive an invitation may use this link beginning August 27, 2020.
- Dentists who continue to have issues gaining access despite meeting criteria, please contact the ADA Member Service Center through the live chat or contact your Client Services Manager.
Eligibility requires the following:
- ADA number (provided within the invite) and last name
- Verify or edit their auto-populated information paying close attention to the shipping address
- Confirm the request to receive an allotment of KN95 masks and level 1 non-surgical polyester isolation gowns
- Enter payment information for the $26.50 fee
Emergency PPE for Texas Dentists – TDA Partners with State
In addition to TDA working with Governor Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management to secure PPE for dentists, TDA simultaneously worked with the Department of State Health Services to ensure that dentists can access PPE through the state’s Regional Advisory Councils (RAC). Here’s how that works:
When Texas dentists exhaust all options to obtain PPE, and are nearing depletion, they may submit a request for a PPE distribution through a State of Texas Assistance Request (STAR).
The PPE receive through this request and distribution system is free. The PPE is acquired by the state and is meant for
Each RAC may process STAR applications differently. Be sure to follow the directions to complete the STAR for the RAC servicing your area. You will need to provide all relevant details for your request, to include type of item, point of contact information, and delivery address.
Free Decontamination Services
See Battelle Company
for details on a free decontamination service for reuse of N95 and N95-equivalent respirators. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use of the Battelle Decontamination System.
Update: On October, 7, 2020, the FDA issued a warning letter
to Battelle for failure to comply with regulatory requirements for medical device reporting as specified in the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System. You may also read the FDA’s press release
CDC: Decontamination and Reuse of Filtering Facepiece Respirators
Extending the Use of PPE
Demand is exceeding supply due to extreme patient surge from COVID-19. Given decreases in exports from select countries and the increases in demand, manufacturers of select types of PPE are reporting challenges in meeting the increased order volume. There are strategies available to extend the life of PPE until the supply chain challenges are resolved. Remember that any reusable PPE must be properly cleaned, decontaminated, and maintained after and between uses.
ADA: Extending the use of N95 Masks
CDC: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Isolation Gowns
CDC: Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE and Equipment
CDC: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks
CDC: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators
CDC: Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings. May 18, 2020.
FDA: N95 Respirators and Surgical Masks (Face Masks)
See TDA Perks Supplies for details on PPE supplies in stock and available for order including: level 2 masks, face shields, coverall safety suits, and infrared thermometers.
CDC: Factors to Consider When Planning to Purchase Respirators from Another Country
CDC: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of N95 Respirators
CDC: NPPTL Respirator Assessments to Support the COVID-19 Response. May 22, 2020.
FDA: Emergency Use Authorizations
Associated PPE Costs
Given PPE changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, ADA and TDA recognize that the cost for treating patients will increase. TDA is currently discussing with state-regulated insurance companies the need for them to reimburse dentists for these increased associated costs.
According to the ADA, “Prior to such adjustments taking effect, dental offices may wish to use CDT code ‘D1999 - unspecified preventive procedure, by report’ to document and report the use and cost of additional PPE. Dentists can use this code once per patient visit/claim to attempt to cover the cost of PPE. Because D1999 is a ‘by report’ code, Box 35 of the ADA Claim Form must include the explanation for charges reported against this code. When additional charges for PPE are being billed, an entry of ‘PPE’ may suffice for Box 35.”
Remember that if the dentist is not participating in the patient’s insurance network, they are able to balance bill the patient a PPE fee. However, if the dentist is a contracted provider with the patient’s insurance plan, they may not be able to bill the patient a PPE fee. Dentists in signed participating agreements with insurance companies need to check their agreements to determine whether they can bill the patient a PPE fee.
Check the ADA’s
COVID-19 Coding and Billing Interim Guidance PPE
to see if any insurance companies you contract with are offering programs to provide financial support for reopening or recovery of dental offices and/or to support the cost of PPE.
If you charge a patient directly, be sure to provide them with a “plain language” written explanation for the charge prior to their appointment. This notice is consistent with dental board regulations governing fair dealing and fees.
ADA: Statement on Third Party Payer Reimbursement for Costs Associated with Increased Standards for Personal Protective Equipment
Fit Testing Respirators
Dentists are required to comply with OSHA’s respiratory protection standard
. Dentist employers have always been required to comply with this standard.
Dentist employers must conduct hazard assessments identifying the hazards Dental Health Care Personnel (DHCP) may face, evaluate that risk, and select, implement and ensure DHCP use the controls you put in place to minimize risk. Refer to the
OSHA Guidance for Dentistry Workers and Employers
for guidance in performing a hazard assessment.
March 14, 2020: Temporary Enforcement Guidance for Enforcing the Respiratory Protection Standard
April 8, 2020: Expanded Temporary Enforcement Guidance on Respiratory Protection Fit-Testing for N95 Filtering Facepieces in All Industries During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic
Seven Steps to Correctly Wear a Respirator at Work
Key Factors of Respiratory Protection
Property Fit and Wear A Disposable Respirator
Three Key Factors for an N95 Respirator to be Effective
Conducting Respirator Fit Tests and Seal Checks
OSHA Guidance for Dentistry for Workers and Employers