Dental practices in Sen. Collin's home state of Maine remain closed for nonemergency procedures.

Update on US Senate COVID-19 hearings: CDC promises new dental guidelines, Sen. Collins questions continued dental closures (Video)

May 13, 2020
Tuesday's hearings came as states have begun to allow dental practices to perform elective procedures—despite an April 27 guidance by the CDC to limit dental treatment to emergencies only.

On Tuesday, the US Senate Health Committee held hearings to address the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the hearing, Senator Susan Collins of Maine pressed health officials on current restrictions placed upon dental practices. Sen. Collins addressed her questions to Robert Redfield, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and asked what conditions would lead to states' "reopening of the practice of dentistry."1 

Sen. Collins noted that in her state, where dental practices remain closed for nonemergency procedures, dentists were seeing "growing health problems" because of their inability to provide treatment. She noted that Maine's dentists were facing restrictions despite their following of American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines and their implementation of "strict protective measures for their patients, their staffs, their hygienists, [and] themselves." 

In response to Sen. Collins' questions, Dr. Redfield said that new CDC guidelines for dental practices were forthcoming.

"We've been interacting and talking with dentists and working with state and local public health officials to update your guidelines on reopening a variety of medical services," Dr. Redfield stated. "I think you raise a very important point and I would not disagree with what you said looking at the American Dental Association, as well as the reality of the outbreak in the area. We are in the process of updating those guidelines and they will include direct guidelines for dental practices."

The current CDC guidance for dental settings was last updated on April 27, and it advised the treatment of emergency procedures only.2 However, as of Tuesday, only 7 states—including Maine—were upholding the CDC guidance.3 Fourty-three states were allowing elective, preventive, or deferred treatment, or had no mandate for dentistry. The ADA has also petitioned the CDC to update its guidance for dental settings. 

C-SPAN's coverage of Tuesday's Senate hearing may be found below.

  • Sen. Collins's remarks begin at timecode 1:40:57.
  • Dr. Redfield's response begins at timecode 1:42:31.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, also testified. Dr. Fauci cautioned that if guidelines were not followed, the reopening of the US economy could lead to further COVID-19 outbreaks.

The CDC reports that to date, the US has recorded 1,342,594 cases of COVID-19. Total COVID-19–related deaths number 80,820, with 1,064 occurring Tuesday.4


  1. White House Coronavirus Task Force Members Testify on Coronavirus Response and Reopening Phases. C-SPAN. Published May 12, 2020. Accessed May 12, 2020.
  2. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Dental Settings. Page reviewed April 27, 2020. Accessed May 12, 2020.
  3. American Dental Association Center for Professional Success. COVID-19 State Mandates and Recommendations. Updated May 1, 2020. Accessed May 12, 2020.
  4. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Cases in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated May 6, 2020. Accessed May 12, 2020.

Zachary Kulsrud is the group editorial director for Endeavor Business Media's dental group, publishers of Dental Economics, DentistryIQ, Perio-Implant Advisory, and RDH magazine.


Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Morning Briefing, a daily newsletter published by Dental Economics, DentistryIQPerio-Implant Advisory, and RDHLearn more and subscribe here. 

For full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, visit the DentistryIQ COVID-19 Resource Center.

About the Author

Zachary Kulsrud

Zachary Kulsrud is the editorial director for Endeavor Business Media's dental group, publishers of Dental Economics, DentistryIQ, Perio-Implant Advisory, and RDH magazine.

Updated July 7, 2020