New orders from Gov. Gavin Newsom have allowed Californians to once again receive preventative dental care. While some dental offices are starting to see more patients, they're also taking extra precautions.
Some dentists closed with the governor’s first stay-at-home order March 19, then reopened, then postponed non-emergency procedures, and are now open again for all care, including the routine preventative.
On Thursday, the California Department of Public Health sent new guidelines to dental offices as the state moved into Stage 2 of the state's reopening plan, including criteria for dental offices to reopen. These include local infection rates, personal protective equipment requirements, and COVID-19 screenings for patients, according to the California Dental Association.
At A Plus Dental in Roseville, patients are screened twice, once by phone when making an appointment and then screened again when they arrive. Once they make it to the chair, the dentist and the hygienist may be hard to see under all the personal protective equipment.
“Instead of just a surgical mask, we have an N95 mask. We put a surgical mask over that to help protect that because they’re in short supply,” says Dr. Tim Herman. “And instead of just our glasses on, we put our glasses with the face shields over that, disposable surgical gowns and a surgical hat.”
Patients may end up receiving care closer to sunset and only two employees will be in an office at one time.
“Not only social distancing but also temporal distancing,” Herman said. “We’ll be expanding our hours. What we used to get done in eight hours we’re going to be doing in 12 hours so we can keep people farther apart from each other.”
Four of the seven A Plus locations have been closed since mid-March.
“We will not be back fully doing what we were doing until there is either treatment or a vaccine that works,” Herman said.
As of 2017 there were about 31,000 dentists licensed in California.
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