Under the governor’s order, dentist offices can reopen on Friday for non-emergent care like cleanings and fillings, for example.
The state dental association said dentists will be ready but expect to see some changes.
The six-foot social distancing rule the CDC recommends involves large droplets of saliva that can transmit COVID-19, but dental equipment can cause the virus to become an aerosol, which means it can travel much farther.
The Oklahoma Dental Association said dentists always follow CDC guidelines when it comes to disinfecting equipment, but now, they’ll be doing much more to curb the spread of COVID-19
“For example, the chair will be wiped down after every patient,” said Paul Mullasseril, Oklahoma Dental Association president. “The cabinet tops and the cabinets will be wiped down after every patient. And during the procedure, we have what’s called a rubber dam that’s used to make sure the saliva and aerosols don’t travel as much.”
Patients will be asked to wait in their cars until their appointments.
“No toys in the waiting room. No magazines. No pens. We will be triaging our patients by phone and then again when the come in. We’ll be taking temperatures," said dental hygienist Ashley Danner.
Dentists will be geared up with personal protective gear.
“You’ll see things like the N-95 mask or a KN-95 mask which is much more protective than the regular masks dentists have been using in the past. In addition to this they’ll have a shield that will go over the head,” Mullasseril said.
The Dental Association said if there is a surge in cases, they’ll scale back to hospitals have enough PPEs.
The Dental Hygienist Association expressed concerns about opening too early, saying:
“…many offices have still not received the appropriate PPE and other recommended equipment, and it is unsafe for those offices to resume routine dental treatment at this time.”
“And now we are we are ready to start. We are excited to start,” Mullasseril said. “We want to make sure it’s safe for patients and staff.”