COVID-19: Restrictions Lifted for Orthodontic Treatment
The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis has meant that many orthodontic practices had to temporarily close their doors. This followed the advice of the government and health regulation bodies to limit their services to emergency treatment only, with this decision intended to support social distancing guidelines, slow the spread of community transmission and help hospitals stockpile personal protective equipment.
With the positive outlook of Australia appearing to flatten the curve, it was recently announced that orthodontists could begin rolling back restrictions from 27th April 2020, easing to Level 1 restrictions from 8th May 2020.
Here is what you need to know about orthodontists opening their practices again:
What do Level 1 restrictions mean?
At Level 1 restrictions, orthodontists are able to provide all treatments using standard safety precautions. This means that the majority of appointments will be able to be completed, pending appointment and safety equipment availability at your local orthodontist.
However, if you are currently suffering symptoms of COVID-19 (Eg. Fever, shortness of breath, cough or a sore throat), are deemed as moderate-to-high risk or have had contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, it is recommended that your treatment is deferred for at least 14 days or until you have cleared testing.
Are all states the same?
No, each state operates under the guidance of their state leaders and their emergency state legislation. While advice is given at a national level for how to progress, states must implement these changes in line with their own epidemiological findings.
Please check with your orthodontist to understand their current position.
Can I get my braces off now?
If your braces removal was put on hold during the crisis, it is possible that you may now be able to get them removed safely, provided you pass the safety screening.
I’m a new patient – can I start my treatment now?
Yes, but this will depend on your health screening, your orthodontist’s availability and the type of treatment you need. Initial conversations and treatment planning should be possible for most cases, however there may be a delay in being able to make a time for an initial appointment or for treatments to start.
It is best to get in touch with your preferred orthodontic practice and to schedule your appointment now. Many orthodontists are also offering convenient tele-consultations during this time.
Can I get a replacement retainer or clear aligner?
If you had an accident and require a new retainer or clear aligner tray, your orthodontist may be able to help you with this now. However, this will largely depend on their suppliers being able to provide them. In some instances, there may be limitations within their supply chain if they remain closed or disrupted, or some minor delays.
If you’re undergoing clear aligner treatment, wearing your most recent aligner tray will stop your treatment from regressing while you wait for a new one.
Why isn’t my orthodontist open?
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPCC) and the Australian Dental Association has advised that dentistry as a whole – including the specialist field of orthodontics – is able to practice under Level 1 restrictions. Social distancing rules will still apply within individual orthodontic practices.
Under this regulation, there is no nationwide directive that dictates whether an orthodontist’s practice should be open or closed. Each orthodontist is responsible not just for your treatment, but for the health and safety of their staff and local community.
If their practice is based in a ‘hotspot’ for the virus, or feel that they are high-risk, they may choose to stay closed until restrictions are further eased across the country. Rest assured, even if they are still closed, they are available to support you and your treatment by phone, email or video conferencing.
For more information about Coronavirus and Orthodontics, please click here.