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You May Have To Wait To Get Your Teeth Cleaned, Because Coronavirus

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Dentists are allowed to operate during the coronavirus outbreak, but most routine services are canceled. Michael Browning on Unsplash
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Need to get your teeth cleaned? You'll probably have to wait.

Dental providers are being urged to limit routine services like dental cleanings in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s part of an effort by government officials to free up personal protective gear like masks and gloves for frontline health care workers.

On March 18 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recommended that clinicians and hospitals delay non-essential dental, medical and surgical procedures to both conserve protective gear and keep the disease from spreading within health care offices.

Dental professionals are especially susceptible because they have to get close to their patients to provide care.

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“We’re following the mandate of Governor Newsom of a stay at home, as well as participating to try to stop the spread of this really nasty COVID19,” said California Dental Association president Richard Nagy.

DENTISTS STILL CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL SERVICE

Dentistry is considered an essential service under Newsom’s order, so emergency dental procedures are still available. The CDA advised it’s 27,000 members to only see emergency dental patients.

“That’s someone with uncontrolled bleeding, trauma, uncontrollable pain and suffering that typically requires an extraction,” Nagy said.

He advised people to call their dentist if they are in pain.

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"Your dentist can triage you over the phone,” he said. “We're trying to make sure that dental-related emergencies do not go to the emergency room. They are busy enough, and we can handle it in our offices."

DENTISTS FACE EMPLOYMENT, FINANCIAL WOES

As dental services are curtailed across California, dentists are worried about their small businesses and staff.

“We employ teams of health care workers like hygienists, assistants, and front desk people – they are out of work right now, because the offices are closed,” Nagy said.

Local, state and federal governments are ramping up help for employees and small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak, though it’s unclear if any specific accommodations will be made for dentistry.

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