DentalCare Logo

Interim Dental Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for the COVID‑19 Response – A New Paradigm

Course Number: 647

Universal Source Control

Ensure office personnel practice appropriate source control protocols to reduce the risk of patient and office personnel exposure to SARS‑CoV‑2.2

  • OHCP should wear a face mask or cloth face covering at all times while they are in the dental setting, including in breakrooms or other spaces where they might encounter co-workers.

    • If available, surgical masks are preferred over cloth face coverings for OHCP; surgical masks offer both source control and protection for the wearer against exposure to splashes and sprays of infectious material from others.

    • Cloth face coverings are not PPE and are NOT an acceptable substitute for an N95 or higher efficiency respirator or surgical facemask if more than source control is required for patient management.

    • Respirators with an exhalation valve are not currently recommended for source control, as they allow unfiltered exhaled breath to escape. If only a respirator with an exhalation valve is available and source control is needed, the exhalation valve should be covered with a facemask that does not interfere with the respirator fit.

    • OHCP whose job duties do not require PPE (such as clerical personnel) should continue to wear their cloth face covering for source control while in the dental office setting.

    • Other OHCP (such as dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants) may wear their cloth face covering when they are not engaged in direct patient care activities, and then switch to a respirator or a surgical mask when PPE is required.

    • OHCP should remove their respirator or surgical mask and put on their cloth face covering when leaving the facility at the end of their shift.

    • OHCP should be instructed to avoid touching or adjusting their mask or cloth face covering; if touching or adjusting occurs, the OHCP should perform hand hygiene immediately before and after.

  • Facemasks and cloth face coverings can become saturated with respiratory secretions and OHCP should take steps to prevent self-contamination:

    • OHCP should change facemasks and coverings if they become soiled, damp, or difficult to breathe through.

    • Cloth face coverings should be laundered daily and when soiled.

    • OHCP should perform hand hygiene immediately before and after any contact with the facemask or cloth face covering.

    • All OHCP should be trained about when, how, and where cloth face coverings can be used, including frequency of laundering, guidance on when to replace them, circumstances when they can be worn in the facility, and the importance of hand hygiene to prevent contamination.