What Is Best for the Child? Pediatric Dental Care during COVID-19


Priyanshi Ritwik, Kimberly K. Patterson, and Elsa Alfonzo-Echeverri


The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has challenged the dental health profession in an unprecedented manner. Suspension of elective dental care across the United States during the initial phase of the pandemic was necessary to prevent viral transmission. The emergency dental care that was provided had to be tailored to minimize the generation of aerosols. With the suspension of elective care, over time, the proportion of dental emergencies was anticipated to rise. Dentists who care for children have continued to provide emergency dental treatment to this vulnerable population. Treatment decisions for pediatric dental emergencies had to be tailored to principles of public health that best mitigated risk of viral transmission. Decisions needed to balance the benefits of chosen treatment modality for the individual child with the risk of viral transmission to dental professionals and their staff, patients, and community. The paucity of reliable research for dentists to aid in clinical decision making may have left careproviders feeling ethically and morally insecure in shifting from a patient-centered to a community-centered paradigm. We present analysis of four pediatric emergency case scenarios that are representative of those likely to present to a private practice, academic setting, or emergency department during the COVID-19 pandemic. This analysis aims to empower dentists who care for children to implement the American Dental Association’s Principles of Ethics & Code of Professional Conduct within the context of a global health crisis.



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