BOSTON (CBS) - Dental offices in the Commonwealth could start taking more patients in the coming weeks. According to the latest guidance from the Massachusetts Dental Society, dental offices should remain closed to elective and non-urgent care until May 18th, after that it's up to, "the professional judgement of every dentist" said society president Dr. Janis Moriarty.
The date was chosen in part because it will allow individual practices added time to secure the personal protective equipment they'll now need moving forward. Moriarty said, "the number one big thing that we're fighting right now is the availability of PPE."
The MDS has been working with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to secure more PPE for dental offices after many of them gave it away to hospitals. "We donated tons of our own PPE in the very beginning of this whole crisis," said Moriarty. "Now we're hoping that we're able to get some PPE back."
When patients do come back for routine procedures, Moriarty said it will look different than what most people are used to. "They're going to be seeing a lot less people. We don't expect waiting rooms to have seating capacity anymore."
Moriarty said patients may also need to prove they aren't sick before being seen. "We're going to need to take temperatures before patients come in," she said.
Staff at dental offices will need to wear more PPE as well. Moriarty said, "we probably will have hair covers, we probably will have shoe covers, and we probably will have gowns on." All of that will need to be changed between patients.
As far as patients having concerns about contacting the virus in a dental office, Moriarty said dental offices are and will remain safe. "Dental offices are probably safer than supermarkets," she said.
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