As Indiana dental offices prepare to reopen, tools cause COVID-19 concern

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WXIN/WEHT) – Indiana’s dental offices are preparing to open back up next week.

The state could allow dentists with proper personal protective equipment to start as early as Monday.

However, the Indiana Dental Association says some of the tools used in dentistry make it difficult to keep patients and staff safe from the coronavirus.

That’s one reason why the IDA has its own COVID-19 task force.

Steve Hollar, Vice President of the Indiana Dental Association and Chair of the IDA’s COVID-19 Task Force, explains that aerosol tools, like a drill, are necessary to maintain oral health.

“Those aerosols have been around for a long long time it’s not like they are brand new. But, clearly, with COVID-19, the transmission is through the air,” said Hollar.

He said proper personal protective equipment, like N-95 masks, are mandatory to keep staff safe.

“Offices, if they don’t have the PPE, and they don’t have the necessary equipment to open, and we are not quite there with supply chain, then, they should not be opening their doors,” explained Hollar. “If they have the right equipment, we are good to go.”

Hollar says OSHA, CDC and the American Dental Association will oversee workplace safety.

Depite potential risks, Hollar said he agrees with the state allowing dental services to start up again on Monday.

He believes they are taking extreme precautions and dental services are critical to human health.

“A lot of patients build up a lot of tarter plaque which is a direct result to heart health,” said Hollar.

He said patients can expect a slow return to dentistry, even though offices are technically allowed to open Monday.

“And dentists know too, if this comes back, we may be put on the bench again, and we don’t want that to happen,” said Hollar.

For more information about how dental offices can prevent the spread of COVID-19, click here.

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(This story was originally published on April 22, 2020)

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