WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The Pennsylvania Department of Health has revised guidance for dentists across the state, allowing some non-urgent care only if there’s proper PPE.
Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine revised their business closure orders issued in March, and removed the prohibition on elective dental procedures.
Non-urgent and non-emergent dental procedures are now allowed in Pennsylvania under revised business closure orders issued Thursday, the revised dental health care guidance was issued by the Department of Health today.
“We want to make sure that dental practices are operating in a way that protects everyone working in the dental office, patients, and community,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine in a press release.
“Providers may perform non-aerosolizing, non-urgent and non-emergent care only if proper PPE, per OSHA guidance, is available for all dental care practitioners, including dental hygienists,” adds Levine.
The protocols released Friday are outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
But not all residents agree the commonwealth is ready to open up for a dental visit.
Shickshinny resident Charles Hodgson tells Eyewitness News he doesn’t think it should open. “You’re letting more of the epidemic in then being closed. You’re going to end up with more people than you got,” continues Hodgson.
While Wilkes-Barre resident, David Iskra, believes dental visits are too important to continue to miss. “I think it’s important that dentists need to be open during this time. Social distancing and proper guidelines in the office also need to be taken seriously. Everyone needs to be aware of the situation and how it could get much worse if they don’t follow proper guidelines.”
Patients will be required to screen for coronavirus symptoms before entering the dental practice while social distancing continues at the office.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health also reminds patients to wash their hands and wear a mask when not under treatment.
Dentistry’s across the commonwealth will have to sink their teeth into these new guidelines in order to be open.
“If infection control procedures outlined by the CDC and osha cannot be followed then the procedure can not be done,” says Levine.
“Every contact between two people is a new link in the chain of potential transmission,” Governor Tom Wolf, (D) Pennsylvania.
“This isn’t to return to routine dentistry, but a way to ensure that patients who need care can obtain it safely for both the patient and the entire dental team,” adds Levine.
The state health department asks that tele-dentistry continue when possible as patients are possibly able to be treated virtually with antibiotics and pain medication.