The World Health Organization recommended postponing routine dental care during the coronavirus pandemic, but the American Dental Association (ADA) strongly disagrees.
"Oral health is integral to overall health. Dentistry is essential health care," said ADA President Dr. Chad Gehani. "Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health."
When coronavirus surged in March, the ADA asked dentists to postpone all but urgent and emergency treatment.
But on July 27, the association adopted an ad interim policy that states dentistry is essential health care.
The ADA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called on dentists to use personal protective equipment, such as masks, goggles and face shields.
The ADA also recommended dentists use rubber dams and high-velocity suction whenever possible and hand scaling instead of ultrasonic scaling when cleaning teeth.
"Millions of patients have safely visited their dentists in the past few months for the full range of dental services," Gehani said in an association news release. "With appropriate PPE, dental care should continue to be delivered during global pandemics or other disaster situations."
On Aug. 3, WHO issued interim guidance recommending that routine care -- including cleanings -- be delayed until "there has been sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates."
Dr. Christopher Fox, CEO of the International Association for Dental Research and American Association for Dental Research, said WHO's recommendation was not meant to override local or national ones.
He added that preventive dental care should not be considered nonessential as WHO said it was.
For more on regular dental care, head to the American Dental Association.