RIDOH Provider Advisory
May 4, 2020
COVID-19 Update for Dental Healthcare Personnel No. 7

On May 1, 2020, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) issued guidance that routine and elective dental care should be postponed until May 8, 2020. This guidance is in alignment with Governor Raimondo’s Reopening Rhode Island Plan. Offices that are in a position to begin offering urgent, emergent, and time-sensitive dental care again, can plan to do so on May 9 or after.
After a recent conference call with dental providers, we have identified the need to clarify any confusion that may exist after last week’s unveiling of Governor Raimondo’s Reopening Rhode Island Plan.


  • RIDOH will not be issuing additional regulations related to the provision of dental care. Wording in a dental advisory dated April 30, 2020 may have caused some confusion. RIDOH wants to explain and clarify that it is the State’s intention to work with all businesses, including dental healthcare providers to appropriately and safely phase in the re-establishment of services. Additionally, when the term pilot is used in relation to business reopening, it applies to the safety protocols that will be implemented.
  • RIDOH’s initial guidance on March 31 stated that routine and elective dental care should be postponed until May 1. On April 21, a RIDOH update stated “It is not anticipated that routine and elective care can resume on May 1, based on availability of PPE, testing, and continued prevalence of disease…guidance on a phased approach will be provided in the coming weeks, in coordination with the Governor’s Office.” RIDOH issued its statement on May 1 to clearly define expectations about timelines. 
Next Steps/Going Forward
  • If you have not already done so, please review the protocol published by the task force of the Rhode Island Dental Association (RIDA) and its partner organizations that brings together federal guidance and best practices based on current knowledge. RIDOH also has regularly updated COVID-19 Information for Healthcare Providers posted on its website.
  • Any practice that resumes offering urgent, emergent, and time-sensitive dental care should immediately report to RIDOH any cases of COVID-19 related to their practice, including staff and patients who test positive after they have received dental care. Call RIDOH’s Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 401-222-2577, (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., seven days a week) or 401-276-8046 after hours.
  • Dentists can order COVID-19 testing prior to urgent and emergent dental procedures that produce an aerosol that cannot be easily managed. (Examples of such procedures include surgical extractions or endodontic therapy where isolation cannot be accomplished.) Dentists should use their dental license and National Provider Identifier (NPI) to make an appointment for a patient
  • RIDOH anticipates being able to provide N-95 respirators and face shields to dental staff. We will coordinate with RIDA for distribution to both members and non-members. Please discontinue requesting PPE from RIDOH’s web form.
  • RIDOH will continue to closely monitor disease and outbreak activity as we move into Phase 1 and will collaborate with RIDA and other subject matter experts as needed. Any future clinical updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) will be evaluated and incorporated as appropriate for Rhode Island.
  • Review new OSHA guidance that was posted May 1: Guidance for Dentistry Workers and Employers
  • Listen to a recording of the May 1, 2020, conference call if you were not able to join.
 Additional Resources
Previous advisories
Rhode Island healthcare providers

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