The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) anticipates that when the current COVID-19 pandemic begins to subside, 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 may seek to impose new restrictions. These will likely be applicable to medical practices, including orthodontic practices, and specifically, related to such topics as infection control, office configuration (open versus closed bays, etc.), and other similar matters. The AAO intends to play an active role in such discussions, advocating for the interests of its members, as well as serving as a leader in taking steps to protect patients, staff and orthodontists in a post-COVID-19 world. 

For these reasons, on April 6, the AAO’s Board of Trustees voted to assemble a COVID-19 task force. 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. 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, 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. 

The AAO will keep members updated regarding any relevant developments in this area. The AAO continues to monitor and advocate on behalf of its members with respect to all COVID-19-related developments at the federal and state levels.