The company believes that recent pandemic-related policies allowing dentists to administer COVID-19 vaccinations should be the start of expanding dentists roles in future vaccination plans. 

Align Technology Inc announced its support to expand U.S. dentists role in administering vaccinations. Recognizing the role that dentists have played in COVID-19 vaccinations, the company argues that we should build on the lessons learned during the pandemic, specifically the value of using networks of existing, trusted, community-level health care providers when rolling out vaccination plans. 

“Since the start of the pandemic, Align’s customers—primarily dentists and orthodontists across the country—have been at the forefront of their profession and healthcare, in general, using social media and virtual appointment and treatment monitoring tools to stay connected with and communicate public health and safety protocols to their patients,” said Julie Coletti, Align Technology senior vice president, chief legal and regulatory officer. “As essential health care providers of ongoing health care services, they have earned their patients’ trust by staying current with the latest health and safety protocols and public health requirements to safely and responsibly treat their patients.”

According to the American Dental Association, 9% of Americans (31 million people) see a dentist every year, but do not see a physician. Align Technology maintains that this is a significant statistic to be considered as part of any future plans for vaccine administration. 

The company points out that dentists are professionally trained in dental school to administer intraoral and extraoral injections to nerve tissue for local anesthesia, which is “arguably more difficult” to administer than injections into the shoulder muscle. Further, many states permit dentists to administer dermal fillers, Botox injections, and to start IVs for procedures requiring sedation. 

On March 16, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amended an emergency declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to authorize additional providers, including dentists and dental students, to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 nationwide regardless of state laws that prevent dentists from doing so. A majority of states have also permitted dentists to administer COVID-19 vaccination. 

Align says it believes that these recent pandemic-related policies should be the start of additional integration of dentists to vaccinate against other diseases—for example, providing routine immunization of oral health related disease such as Human Papillomavirus (HPV).