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COVID-19 Resources for Orthodontists

UPDATED AS OF January 13, 2021 4:30pm CT: The impact of COVID-19 on your orthodontic practice continues to evolve. The AAO is committed to helping you navigate these changes, so you can focus on your patients, your staff and your loved ones

CDC Updates Guidance on What Constitutes “Close Contact”

On October 21, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revised their COVID-19 guidance defining what constitutes “Close Contact.” Please find the updated definition below. You can access more information at the CDC link below.


Close Contact: Someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

Learn more


The AAO is committed to connect you with the resources you need as you continue to navigate changes brought on by COVID-19. We are here to help you protect your patients, your staff and your practice. Among those challenges are the decisions about:


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE has long been a reality for orthodontic practices but has taken on new importance in the COVID-19 era. The AAO is committed to helping you connect with the specific equipment you need for N-AGP and AGP, when you need it. The AAO is in regular communication with our industry suppliers in order to identify those best positioned and willing to fulfill large orders from AAO members in a cost-efficient and time-efficient manner. PPE availability includes masks, face shields, gowns and gloves. Some suppliers also offer office supplies such as thermometers and sneeze guards.


Can I Make Vaccines Mandatory for My Employees?

Can you require your employees to get a COVID vaccine or other vaccinations? Ultimately the answer to this question is less about what you *can* do, and more about what you *should* do. Read more in CEDR’s blog:


When Can Orthodontists Receive a Vaccination?

The ADA has compiled a state-by-state list of COVID-19 vaccine regulations and availability for dentists here. The phase of the process where dentists will receive the COVID-19 vaccine is determined on a state-by-state basis. 

Meanwhile, Canadian orthodontists can access provincial level information on vaccine availability by clicking here and selecting the appropriate option on the dropdown box under “Vaccinations in your province or territory.”

The AAO will share more information with members on the vaccination process as it becomes available.

Operational Guidance

Whether you’re still preparing to reopen or have been open for months, it’s always good to review your plans to ensure you are on the right track for your patients and the rest of your staff. This includes having scripted responses to address patient concerns, and communicate office policies regarding PPE, appointment scheduling, waiting room procedures and more. Here are some resources to help you get started.

American Dental Association Return to Work Toolkit

Improved Ventilation to Combat COVID-19

As part of a layered strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the CDC now offers updated guidance on ventilation in buildings. These strategies can decrease the amount of virus particles in the air. The CDC recommends that practices employ multiple tools for mitigation, increasing overall effectiveness.

Learn more here.


Employee Health

The AAO has developed a fillable PDF for your use in tracking staff health, including temperatures and any reported symptoms.


How to Cope with Job Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic: 

Whether you are going into work or working from home, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably changed the way you work. Fear and anxiety about this new disease and other strong emotions can be overwhelming, and workplace stress can lead to burnout. How you cope with these emotions and stress can affect your well-being, the well-being of the people you care about, your workplace, and your community. 

Learn More.


Infection Control

Jackie Dorst, RDH, BS,  reviews current information on COVID-19 and the CDC and OSHA Guidance for safe care.


Updated Patient Forms

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic demands that you track the health of your patients and staff like never before. These forms can help you get started.

Patient Communications

Staying in touch with your patients is important. In our comprehensive guide and the blog posts linked below, we’ll help you reach out to and reassure your patients as they come back to your office.


AAO Advocacy Resources and Guidance for COVID-19 Resurgence

As you are likely aware, parts of the United States and Canada are experiencing a resurgence in COVID-19 positive tests and hospitalization numbers. This development may cause state and/or local governmental authorities to consider (or in some cases, impose) a second round of business closure requirements. As with the first round of business closings, the AAO continues to recommend that members monitor and abide by any business closing restrictions imposed by your state and/or local authorities. 

However, the AAO also recognizes the extreme burden that these restrictions may have on members’ practices and patients as in-person appointments have experienced interruptions for an extended period of time. The AAO has provided members with a wide range of resources to minimize the disruption, including the AAO’s COVID-19 resource webpage and the work of the AAO’s COVID-19 Task Force.

As part of our ongoing effort to assist members and avoid new COVID-19-related closures, the AAO is equipping component and constituent leadership with resources for advocating before governmental authorities regarding additional business closures.

An important reminder is that active orthodontic treatment is considered emergent care in many state and local jurisdictions – if not providing orthodontic care would result in harm to the patient.




COVID-19 is an educational experience for all of us in so many ways. The AAO is committed to ensuring you and your staff have the knowledge and information you need to handle the unique challenges of running a practice in this environment.

Your CE Passport includes COVID-19 content

Educational content is easier and more convenient than ever, thanks to the AAO’s CE Passport. One subscription unlocks complimentary registration to our monthly live educational series, plus unlimited access to over 500 hours of online, on-demand courses, available anytime, anywhere, from any device. Also upgrade to our Doctor + Staff plan for more savings, including staff membership in our Orthodontic Staff Club.

COVID-19 Webinars for CE 

Listen to the AAO Townhall Featuring Expert Advice for COVID-19 Issues

In case you missed it on Tuesday, July 28, listen to the recording of AAO’s COVID-19 Townhall. AAO President, Dr. Chris Roberts, hosted a panel of subject matter experts on COVID-19 issues for AAO members. A recorded version of this event is now available to view in its entirety. Tune in for COVID-19 analysis, guidance and information from Dr. Mike Durbin (Chair, AAO COVID-19 Task Force), Paul Edwards (CEDR Human Resources), Dan Wicker, CPA (Cain Watters & Associates), and Jackie Dorst, RDH, BS. Please note that this program is not for CE. 

View webinar



More COVID-19 related questions? Let us know

The AAO staff is here to help you with your concerns and questions about the coronavirus. Send our team an email at