Ask Kara RDH: Why Isn’t Today’s RDH Addressing New Infection Control Guidelines?

© Tierney / Adobe Stock

Why aren’t there any articles on Today’s RDH addressing new infection control guidelines for when hygienists return to work?

The short answer is because new infection control guidelines for post-pandemic hygiene don’t exist. (Please take note of the date this was published/posted)

Long answer: Right now, the CDC only has interim guidelines for infection control practices for seeing emergency patients. They have not come out with new infection control guidelines for when things are back to normal, and elective procedures (hygiene) can begin. To cover “the new normal” would just be speculation and not based on any real requirements that are in place or evidence-based.

As a publication, it would be irresponsible to make guesses on what future guidelines will be. What if we guessed wrong? Guessing without any reference hurts our credibility, but even worse, it could hurt somebody. What if someone took our advice and got hurt or was infected? Again, the CDC has only interim infection control guidelines for seeing emergency patients; to make any guesses is speculation and not evidence-based and would be irresponsible to publish.

I have given this response quite a bit lately, and most often, it’s followed with the question, “When will the CDC release new infection control guidelines for dental offices?” Only the CDC has the answer to that. I can’t even begin to take a guess. Again, for me to guess is irresponsible, as it is putting out information that may not be correct and isn’t based on fact.

I realize that the unknown is frightening, and not having any true answers makes it even worse. For some hygienists, it’s been an ongoing struggle to get your office to abide by the current infection control guidelines, let alone worry about if your doctor will be providing the proper PPE, whatever that may be, for you to treat patients safely when work resumes. I get that, and I empathize with the anxiety dental hygienists feel about the future. I really hope you can see where I’m coming from in not wanting to make guesses or put out speculative content.

That said, when the science is out, and new CDC recommendations are made, Today’s RDH will be reporting on it. And if the science shows that future PPE requirements are not adequate, Today’s RDH will be reporting on that as well. It’s crucial that we all stand up for safety.

If there hasn’t been a time to stand up for your safety and the safety of those you treat, when you return to work, now is that time. It’s also a time to reflect on how your office/boss handled the situation we are all in. Please don’t let the need for a paycheck allow you to put yourself in an unsafe position. Listen to your gut. I know that’s easier said than done, and it’s a strong ask. Your patients’ safety matters. Your safety matters. I just hope you all know that. Remember that OSHA requires your employer to provide a safe workplace and to provide appropriate PPE, again, whatever that may be.

Stay healthy and take care!

Links you might find helpful:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) interim infection control guidelines:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) interim enforcement response plan:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) COVID-19 standards:

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19:

American Dental Association statement on reopening:

American Dental Association mask and faces shield guidelines:

Now Listen to the Today’s RDH Dental Hygiene Podcast Below:

Previous articleTop 30 Things Dental Hygienists Can Do During Self-Isolation
Next articleEmergency Dental Treatment During Pandemic Should Lead to More Patient Education
Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP
Kara Vavrosky, RDHEP, is a co-founder and the chief content officer of Today’s RDH, an independent educational publishing company for dental hygienists, encompassing articles, a podcast, virtual continuing education events, and self-study continuing education. Today’s RDH was launched in 2018 after Kara built her social media presence with her largest following on her Facebook page, Dental Hygiene with Kara RDH, which was created in 2013. An Oregon Institute of Technology graduate, Kara has a deep passion for spreading knowledge about the importance of oral health and its association with systemic health. Kara’s passion extends to helping other hygienists understand current protocols and evidence-based research – all with the goal of lifting dental hygienists and the dental hygiene profession. Kara was recognized in 2020 as one of the Top 100 Women in Media for her entrepreneurship as a co-founder of Today’s RDH. In 2022, she was recognized by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association for their Standout Seven Award in the Entrepreneur category. Kara lives in Vancouver, Washington, just outside Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Ben, and their four Chihuahuas. When she’s not working, Kara loves riding the Oregon Dunes on her quad, spoiling her Chihuahuas, and spending time with her close-knit family.