Clarifying the WHO guidance on dental care during COVID-19: An interview with Dr. Julie Hawley

Clarifying the WHO guidance on dental care during COVID-19: An interview with Dr. Julie Hawley

A misreading of the World Health Organization’s recent COVID-19 dental guidance may be to blame for the alarm it caused in the US dental community. We spoke to the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement to understand why.

On August 3, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a guidance for the administration of oral health care during COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, US media began to report that the WHO had recommended delaying “non-essential” dental care during the pandemic. From there, it wasn’t long before dental associations from A to Z began issuing statements that chided the WHO for its recommendation.

But was this much ado about nothing? Upon further review, the WHO guidance may have been more nuanced than initially reported. I had a chance to speak with Julie Hawley, PhD, CAE, the director of analytics and evaluation at the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, about the origins of the WHO controversy. Dr. Hawley and her colleagues are seeking to clarify the guidance, as its misinterpretation may be causing patients to delay dental care unnecessarily. I also spoke with Dr. Hawley about how dental professionals could make sense of the many competing recommendations that have been published to date.

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