Updated 10/8/20

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.”

Purchasing PPE
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. 

Resources OSHA:
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

Resources CDC:
Key Factors of Respiratory Protection
Property Fit and Wear A Disposable Respirator
Three Key Factors for an N95 Respirator to be Effective

Resources ADA:
Conducting Respirator Fit Tests and Seal Checks
Respirator Guide
OSHA Guidance for Dentistry for Workers and Employers