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Dentists in Mississippi may begin reopening

The State Dental Board has voted to allow dentist offices across the state to reopen their doors this week, with limitations in place to help prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

A major factor in letting dentist offices reopen is the safety and health of patients and staff. Close proximity to patients could possibly mean employees have the chance to contract the disease.

“There are a couple of challenges in dentistry. The number one is of the four professions that are highest risk for getting COVID, three of them are in the dental office,” State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in a WLBT report. “It’s the dental hygienist, dentist respiratory therapist, that’s the dental assistant and then it’s the dentist. So we have to be very cautious as we go back into that.”

According to media reports, the Health Department and members of the COVID-19 Response team met with the State Dental Board and guidelines from the National Dental Association on COVID-19 will be sent to dentists before they see patients.

Dr. Don Doty, owner and co-practitioner at Brookway Dental, says that his office has still seen patients during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We really haven’t been closed,” Doty said. “We’ve been seeing patients for emergencies.”

This includes broken teeth or dentures, intense pain, infection or abscess.

Doty said the office would limit its practice by patient and procedure.

“We take universal precautions anyway,” Doty said.

Brookway Dental will implement new methods to keep their office as clean as possible. Air filters will be placed in each room and patients will be limited in the waiting room.

Patients will also be screened before entering the building. This will include temperatures being taken and answering general questions.

“We have plans for when we start back up,” Doty said. “But it won’t be a fully open practice.”

For anyone who wants to take care of their oral health during the shelter in place order, Doty recommends tackling the basics.

“Spend extra time brushing, learning how to floss properly, and getting in a habit of swishing with water if you can’t brush,” Doty said.

Avoiding foods with high sugar or acid content is also important.