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Will dental offices remain open if there is another wave of shutdowns?

July 27, 2020
Like most dentists, Dr. Chris Salierno wonders what another round of shutdowns would look like, and what it would do to dentistry. But he's cautiously optimistic dental practices can dodge a bullet the second time around. Here's why.

As COVID-19 continues to spike regionally in the US, many of us wonder if our practices will be forced to close again if there is another wave of mandated shutdowns. Of course, the real answer to this question is that no one can say for sure. But I am cautiously optimistic that we will remain open, for three reasons.

Dental offices are safe

There have not been any documented cases of coronavirus traced to a dental practice. Patient screening, additional PPE, social distancing, and the myriad of disinfection and sterilization procedures that have already been in place have been effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

The media

Recent media coverage of dentistry during the COVID-19 pandemic has been positive. Reports from The New York Times, NPR, and the Washington Post, among others, agree that dental care can be provided safely while coronavirus remains a threat. It would seem that the court of public opinion is on our side.

The California case study

Dentists and our professional associations have lobbied that oral health care is an essential service. Now that practices have the proper PPE and additional measures in place to keep patients and teams safe, it would stand to reason that we should be allowed to remain open even if our state governments initiate a shut down. That’s exactly what has happened in California. On July 13, California Governor Gavin Newsom instituted a second shutdown and dental practices have been able to remain open.

So, I am hopeful that any new state-mandated shutdowns will exclude dental practices. There is an absence of reported COVID-19 cases from dental offices, the media is supportive, and California has set an important precedent for practices remaining open.

Chris Salierno, DDS, is the chief editor of Dental Economics and the editorial director of the Principles of Practice Management and Group Practice and DSO Digest e-newsletters. He is also a contributing author for DentistryIQ and Perio-Implant Advisory. He lectures and writes about practice management and clinical dentistry. Additional content is available on his blog for dentists at thecuriousdentist.com. Dr. Salierno maintains a private general practice in Melville, New York. You may contact him by e-mail at [email protected].