Non-Surgical Caries Management Approaches

Treatment Recommendations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cover page of "Non-Surgical Caries Management Approaches" guidance by NCOHC and UNC Dental School professors

During the COVID-19 pandemic, recommendations for health care providers have been changing rapidly. The current dynamic environment is likely to continue for some time. As we navigate new and changing guidance for providing care, practitioners should regularly monitor information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Dental Association (ADA), among other state and national organizations.

Due to risks associated with aerosol-producing handpieces and 3-way air water syringes, most oral health care during the intense phase of the pandemic is limited to emergency care. Restorative approaches that involve these tools should be minimized. However, there are steps that providers can take to maintain patients’ oral health while limiting viral exposure, especially for emergency care related to dental caries.

Definitive dental restorations will be necessary for any number of reasons during this time, but there will be many situations in which a number of non-surgical caries management approaches can be used to help reduce caries initiation, progression, and the need for surgical procedures.

The following guidance will describe home-based caries prevention plan modifications and procedures for caries management for patients across the age spectrum, both for primary and permanent teeth, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For all recommendations, please follow best clinical practices and evidence-based guidance from the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).