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CDC Updates Dental COVID-19 Infection Control Guidance, Removes Recommendation to Wait 15 Minutes Between Patients

As COVID-19 deaths in the United States surpass 119,000 with infection cases on the rise, last week the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its Interim Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Dental Settings During the COVID-19 Response. The updates were made to provide clarification and/or to align recommendations with other CDC guidelines. The updates are as follows:

  • CDC removes recommendation to wait 15 minutes between patients. Specifically, according to the Guidance, “the recommendation to wait 15 minutes after completion of clinical care and exit of each patient without suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to begin to clean and disinfect room surfaces has been removed to align with CDC Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings.” Some experts believe it is still important to wait before disinfecting patient treatment rooms after aerosol-generating procedures. How much wait time is needed is dependent on a number of factors (see below). Dental healthcare personnel (DHCP) can evaluate these factors and using their professional judgment, make educated decisions about the waiting period for room cleaning and disinfection in their individual practices. Factors include:
    • Room air flow or exchange rate. Higher air flow generally shortens the wait period
    • Duration of aerosol-generating procedures
    • Volume of patients
    • Use of engineering controls such as HEPA devices, rubber dams, and high speed evacuation



  • CDC clarifies the recommendations for implementing engineering controls regarding room and local exhaust ventilation.


We will continue to provide updates on dental infection control and prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since 1992, OSHA Review, Inc. has provided dental professionals with comprehensive programs to support regulatory compliance and infection control. We are a registered continuing education provider in the state of California, specializing in Dental Practice Act, infection control, and OSHA training.

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