The goal is to compile and issue “best practices” to protect the safety of patients, staff and orthodontists.

When the current COVID-19 pandemic begins to subside, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) expects regulatory agencies like the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Health and Human Services, or analogous state agencies to seek to impose new restrictions. These will likely be applicable to medical practices, including orthodontic practices, and the topics specifically related to infection control, office configuration (open versus closed bays, etc), and other similar matters.

In anticipation of these new requirements, the AAO board of trustees recently voted to assemble a COVID-19 task force in efforts to play an active role in such discussions, advocating for the interests of its members, and serve as a leader in taking steps to protect patients, staff and orthodontists in a post-COVID-19 world.

The task force will be comprised of members of relevant AAO Councils, including the Council on Governmental Affairs, the Council on Scientific Affairs, and the Council on Orthodontic Practice. The task force will also include outside subject matter experts on relevant topics, such as infectious diseases, infection control, and office design.

According to the AAO, the goal of the COVID-19 task force will be to compile a set of “best practices” that protect patients, staff and orthodontists, which can be proposed to federal and state agencies considering these subjects. At the same time, the task force will also seek to ensure that regulations not applicable to orthodontic practices are not imposed on orthodontic practices. For instance, aerosols are an important consideration for general dentistry (due to use of such items as high-speed handpieces and water spray), but for the most part are not a consideration for orthodontic practices.

The AAO’s federal lobbying team, from the law firm Cozen O’Connor, will also assist the COVID-19 task force. After the task force has compiled a set of recommended best practices, the AAO’s federal lobbyists will work with COGA to advocate for adoption of these best practices, as well as advocate against the adoption of any regulations or requirements not applicable to orthodontic practices.