Gov. Chris Sununu put out new guidance Friday that could pave the way for dentists to resume procedures they put off due to COVID-19 as early as next week.
At a press conference, Sununu noted that while the state did not ban dental procedures during the coronavirus emergency, many dental offices closed voluntarily. He said new state guidelines offer more information on how to resume dental procedures safely. That includes requiring dental office employees to wear protective equipment, including masks, and having staff screened for COVID-19 symptoms before each shift.
Sununu said it's up to patients and their dentists to decide what's best for them. The state will also offer help to dentists securing personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
But some in the field, including the New Hampshire Dental Hygienists Association, are worried it's still too soon. Myra Nikitas, the group's president, said resuming non-emergency dental procedures could put her colleagues in conflict with CDC guidelines. She's also concerned about the possibility of contamination, given the close contact involved in dental cleanings, and about drawing protective gear away from healthcare settings where it might be more urgently needed.
"Even to this day, some dental offices can't even get gowns, disposable gowns, or hair coverings, shields are on backorders ourselves,” Nikitas said.
The new state guidance says dental offices should hold off on procedures if they don’t have proper PPE, and is offering to help secure that equipment.