coronavirus

Dental Offices Open Despite Concerns Among Some Hygienists

Starting Friday, Texans will be allowed to visit their dentist once again for routine care, but some dental hygienists don't feel it's safe just yet to head back to work

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Starting Friday, Texans will be allowed to visit their dentist once again for routine care, but some dental hygienists don't feel it's safe just yet to head back to work.

The State Dental Board has voted to let Texas dentists resume performing elective procedures and providing non-urgent care, starting Friday.

Under the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners’ proposal, individual dentists should update written safety procedures and take a host of steps to prevent the spread of the virus in their offices, but Janessa Bock, the president-elect of the Texas Dental Hygienists Association, feels there certain safety changes should be required, including mandated personal protective equipment, like N95 masks, for staff.

"We understand the financial burden this is putting on small businesses, however, we need to ensure the public and health professionals are safe and that we don't create another avenue for the spread of COVID-19," said Bock.

In the meantime, prosthodontist Dr. Sheena Allen is preparing for the reopening of her office at Dallas Dental Arts.

She said the outlines provided by the state board leave a "gray" area but feels confident that dentists will make educational decisions and follow CDC and American Dental Association guidelines.

Dallas Dental Arts will open Monday and for weeks, has worked on writing new safety protocols, including mandatory screening of patients, contamination and sanitation guidelines, as well as new PPE requirements, that will include custom-fitted face coverings in addition to medical-grade masks.

"At the end of the day, I need to make sure that when my staff go home to their familes, they're all safe and the same thing holds true for our patients," said Allen.

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