As COVID-19 ravages the United States, the dental system is taking a major hit. Dental offices, both private and public, are closing across the nation for at least three weeks. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that all dental businesses close during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The exception to this recommendation is for emergency dental operations. This would include abscessed and painful broken teeth, or other emergencies to this extent.
As of now there are no strict rules for the Missouri Dental Association (MDA), but the dentists are relying on their professional associations to guide them. The MDA says that they are closely monitoring the situation and they are supporting the guidance from the ADA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are urging dentists in Missouri to comply with the ADA and CDC’s guidelines. Because the situation is evolving quickly, they are constantly monitoring the situation and keeping in contact with state and governmental regulatory agencies and the ADA. As of March 23, 2019 all dentists in the state of Missouri were urged to cancel elective procedures. They recommended this for three weeks, but this decision could change at any moment.
In the state of Missouri there are 2,965 dental practices. This number includes specialty practices, such as orthodontists and oral surgeons. All of these practices will be affected and so will the employees involved. This puts hygienists, dental assistants, secretaries, and office managers all out of work for an extended period of time. If the ADA shuts down dental practices for an even longer period of time, this could be detrimental to all of the workers involved.
Missouri dental practices are not the only businesses taking a hit. Dental practices across the country are being forced to close due to the growing pandemic. In New Jersey, dental practices cannot even practice emergency procedures. They are entirely closed for an unspecified period of time. Patients cannot get the care they need and dental offices are out of work.
Amy Rowland, a dentist from Poplar Bluff, MO said, “Although these recommendations are difficult financially for the dental community, we are ultimately advocates for the health of our patients. Closing our practices to elective procedures is the right thing to do for our community.” Lea Christian, a dental assistant for Rowland Dental, said “It has affected us as far as not knowing when we can go back and care for our patients.”