Though most states are allowing dental offices to resume elective procedures, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to recommend that practices limit their care to emergency and essential treatment.
During Tuesday’s US Senate Health Committee hearings, Senator Susan Collins of Maine asked CDC director Robert Redfield, MD, about potential updates to the CDC’s guidelines. Redfield responded that those updates are in the works.
“I am hearing from dentists all over the state of Maine that the fact that they cannot practice in our state despite following very strict infection control protocols is causing growing health problems,” Collins said.
“Dentists tell me that teeth with cavities that could have been filled are now going to need root canals. Teeth that could have been treated with root canals are now going to require extractions. People with oral cancers cannot get the treatment, the cleanings they need, before beginning their treatment,” Collins said.
“Dental health is clearly so important, and Maine state officials, as well as our dentists, are seeking assistance in reaching the right decisions. Forty-seven other states either have reopened dental practices or have a date set to reopen,” Collins said.
“If dentists are following the American Dental Association guidelines, if they’re instituting strict protective measures for their patients, their staffs, their hygienists, themselves, and if they’re closely examining and seeing a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections in their county, are these reasonable factors for states to consider in reopening the practice of dentistry?” she asked.
“We have been interacting and talking with dentists and working with the state and local public health officials to update our guidelines on reopening a variety of medical services as you know, and I think you raise a very important point,” said Redfield.
“I would not disagree with what you said about looking at the American Dental Association as well as the reality of the outbreak in the area,” Redfield continued. “We are in the process of updating those guidelines, and they will include direct guidelines for dental practices.”