Dentists get ready to reopen with new safety protocols

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Dental practices across the state prepare to open up Friday, May 1 after approval from Ohio Governor Mike Dewine.

After decades of taking extreme measures to prevent the spread of deadly diseases like hepatitis-C or HIV, dental offices have looked at COVID-19 for six weeks. Some are ready to open.

“We’re requiring that all parents and kids wear masks at all times,” said Dr. Mindy Price with Worthington Pediatric Dentists. “We’re taking their temperature right when they walk in the door.”​

One hygenist says she would not treat her own kids right now.

“If it was my daughter sitting in that chair, how comfortable would I be treating her at this moment in time?” asked state registered hygienist Bianca Fernandez. “I wouldn’t.”​

Her concern is over aboutg creating aerosols while working on a patient who may be asymptomatic with COVID-19. Most dental aerosols are called droplet nuclei and can float in the air for up to two hours. Another respiratory disease like tuberculosis can be carried on droplet nuclei adn taht is why patients with it are not treated in dental offices

“We do know how tuberculosis is, it’s deadly,” said Fernandez. “It’s scary and that’s how it travels, so I think it should be taken seriously.”​

The World Health Organization says COVID-19 is normally carried on larger particles that do not float on the air, but it may be possible to spread it in specific settings taht generate aerosols.

Bianca says offices need to reopen soon, but more precautions like securing air evacuation systems to clear the air need to be taken.

In the meantime, dentists like Mindy’s father say we may have to simply move forward.

“The risk of the virus is still a small percentage of the population,” said Dr. Sidney Price. “But the risk of the dental disease is a much higher percentage of the population.”​

Not all dental offices will be prepared to open. Some of them will not have the required personal protective equippment needed to safely handle patients’ procedures.

Coronavirus in Ohio resources:

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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