Your next trip to the dentist will look slightly different now as dental offices in Mississippi continue to open in phases.
Today begins phase three, allowing offices to resume non-essential visits for patients not at high-risk for COVID-19.
While procedures may differ at each South Mississippi dental office, patients and staff can expect a higher level of protection at their visits, including empty waiting rooms, only patients under the age of 65, or patients without risk of severe disease, and changes to the tools hygienists use to clean your teeth.
The Mississippi Dental Association, along with the state board and ADA, are also discussing the allowance of dental offices to charge a minimum fee to help recoup some of those extra costs for providing protection equipment.
Dr. Beaux McCormick of McCormick Family Dentistry in Gulfport says he’s confident in the safety of reopening dental practices. “If you were to evaluate our profession based on the guidelines that we functioned on pre-COVID then we would definitely be in the very high category of transmission risk. However, with the guidelines I talked about with the board, we carefully crafted those guidelines to minimize the risk to patients, but also to staff. The hygienists are not going to be using the ultra-sonic cleaners on patients; that cuts down our aerosol generating procedures which helps prevent transmission of COVID. All in all, we’re pretty confident that we’re gonna be safe and effective and be able to get the treatment that people need.”
Dr. McCormick says they are pre-screening all patients over the phone before their appointment to make sure they haven’t been exposed to COVID-19.
At the office, they’ll get their temperatures taken outside and go through an additional health screening.
Staff will also have increased personal protection wearing gowns, face shields, and N-95 masks.