Dental Offices to Reopen: What You Should Know, According to Experts

Dental offices are preparing to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, and there things about it that experts want everyone to know. According to Health.com, when states began to issue stay-at-home orders, about 90 percent of dental offices closed. The other 10 percent were open for urgent and emergency situations.

Due to COVID-19 being so easily spread from person-to-person, all medical offices, especially dental practices, have been of great concern. Now, Dr. Joseph Vinetz, — a professor at Yale School of Medicine and a Yale Medicine infectious disease doctor — says that "as long as the dentist and assistants wear masks and get tested," dental procedures can be very safe. Interestingly, Los Angeles-based celebrity cosmetic dentist Bill Dorfman, DDS, adds that it is actually the dentists and their staff that are the highest risk for exposure. Ultimately, "the chances of a patient being infected by a dentist is much, much lower than a patient infecting a dentist," Dr. Dorfman asserts. "The biggest exposure is going into somebody's mouth. It's the dentist and dental office that is at a bigger risk." This is why everyone visiting a dentist's office should wear a mask to help prevent any possible spread of coronavirus.

As far as what dental offices are doing to help protect themselves and their patients from Covid-19, Charles Sutera, DMD, FAGD — cosmetic dentist and founder of Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction — told Health.com that practices already follow OSHA-set standards for sanitizing equipment with EPA-approved disinfectants that are specially designed kill viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens are exclusively for use in healthcare offices. "These standards are in practice every day, regardless of whether there's a known outbreak of an infectious disease," he says. Dr. Sutera later added that "when open during the COVID-19 pandemic," his office enforces "social distancing between all individuals in the office when not wearing personal protective equipment." This goes for both "patients and staff." Additionally, his staff "routinely" disinfects "common surfaces in lobbies or waiting rooms, including doorknobs, countertops, and pens."

Dr. Dorfman later added that dental offices are also using new equipment that can help with the spread of coronavirus. "We are also using what's called an extra oral," he said, then going on to describe the machine that works outside of the mouth. "It is a high powered suction unit that picks up all the aerosol in the air from when we use a drill." Ultimately, it may not just yet be time for a routine check-up to be scheduled, as Covid-19 concerns are still high, but anyone needing emergency dental work should find themselves in good hands.