The coronavirus (COVID-19) is estimated to be 10X worse than the flu according to the CDC. Currently, scientists around the globe are working on a vaccine, but we do not have one yet. The quick spread has resulted in a need for all of us to do our part in reducing the spread of this outbreak.
We are recommending that you suspend non-essential dental treatment until April 7, 2020, in response to CDA’s recommendations and
San Francisco Mayor Breed’s “shelter in place"
order. Additionally, consistent with Governor Newsom’s directive that citizens age 65 and older stay home, the SFDS is recommending that dentist practitioners over age 65 refrain from seeing patients. All non-essential cases should be rescheduled.
This pause, along with all the other measures being taken, will hopefully reduce the now accelerating spread of the coronavirus. The increase in testing will lead to many more cases being detected, but then we should see this acceleration curve flattening. This outbreak is going to impact us all greatly and I would like to share what the SFDS leaders are doing in their practices.
Please reassure your staff and your patients that we are all in this together and working to end the spread of the virus.
When you reschedule patients, let them know that it is a preventive step that was placed out of precaution and that it is not because you had an outbreak at your office. Several members are using the following script when contacting patients. You may find this helpful with your outreach efforts:
The California Dental Association has recommended that all San Francisco dental offices voluntarily postpone non-emergency dental care until April 7, 2020. As stewards of good health, we will be doing our part to support social distancing in our community. Therefore, we are calling you to reschedule your upcoming dental appointment. If you have a dental emergency, please contact our office so that we can evaluate the situation.”
Additionally, use of phone calls and other forms of HIPAA-compliant telemedicine as a means of communicating with patients during this time is highly encouraged. One option is Zoom, which is offering free 40-minute services and may be an option for virtual check-ins with patients. To register and complete tutorials, visit:
The staff is very concerned about their work status and paycheck. Reassure them on how you plan to handle the situation. You may wish to pay them for the duration of the shelter-in-place. This is a perfect time for them to complete various on-line continuing education courses, the mandated Harassment training, etc. They may be eligible for unemployment for a reduction in hours. And, of course, they may opt to use sick/vacation time (you cannot mandate that they use it). The options for compensation available through the government are being decided now and we are providing important links for the most current information.
When you see patients at the office, minimize creating aerosols (no ultrasonic). There is no requirement that you wear N-95 masks now, but that may change.
We are all going to learn a lot from this. We want to look back and be able to say that we did our part. That we did our best!
We will continue to update you as things evolve. While the SFDS business office will be closed until April 7, the SFDS team will be working remotely and will respond to your calls and emails.
In the meantime, visit