Keeping the CORONA VIRUS Out of Dental Offices?


[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

The ONLY way to protect dentists, staff, patients and their families from the risk of fatal COVID-19 infections is to keep the virus out of dental offices. (See graph from the New York Times).


Prediction: If quick and reliable testing is not available soon, within weeks after dental offices re-open for routine dental care – creating aerosols with high speed hand pieces, air/water syringes and ultrasonic scalers – dental offices will justifiably become known as reliable sources of COVID-19 infections, before being closed down again by the state.

Assessment: Your thoughts are appreciated.


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3 Responses

  1. Here is what is going to happen, sports fans. (No wagering, please):

    Shortly after Texas Governor Greg Abbott shuts down dentistry in about 3 weeks – after casting blame on dentists for provably causing hundreds of new COVID-19 infections in the state – you will witness renewed urgency that will be nationwide by then, to speed up delivery of fast and accurate onsite testing kits for dentists, especially.

    Nevertheless, the common sense solution to keeping the virus out of dentists’ offices will come too late. Bankruptcies of small practices will follow the second closure (as well as perhaps a third) eventually leading to growth in huge, investor-owned dental chains with enough cash reserves to wait it out for the next generation of rotten teeth.

    Dental spending will remain depressed for years to come, Texans who never missed their twice-annual appointments will never again get their teeth cleaned, and Texans will no longer trust Greg Abbott.

    Who knows. Maybe the outlook will improve soon. The future gets fuzzy following the shouting match due to occur between Abbott and leaders of the Texas Dental Association who lobbied for an earlier opening. They thought it might help move things along… perhaps like a laxative.

    Darrell Pruitt DDS



    Governor Abbott has second thoughts about re-opening dentistry … That didn’t last long. His ill-advised plans for hastily reopening dental offices is crumbling already. I don’t think the reopening will last until May 20 like I predicted.

    “Texas dental board votes to let dentists resume performing elective procedures, providing routine care – The board wants to let dentists again provide non-urgent care, starting Friday, but Gov. Greg Abbott apparently has some objections.” By Robert T. Garrett for the Dallas Morning News, April 29, 2020.

    Garrett: The board’s move to ease coronavirus restrictions imposed last month by Gov. Greg Abbott alarmed many dental hygienists, who have protested that some dental offices won’t have the advanced personal protective equipment that federal public-health guidelines recommend.

    And it flouted the federal Centers on Disease Control and Prevention’s continuing advice that dental care is risky in the age of COVID-19 — and non-emergency procedures and surgeries should be postponed.

    We need better leaders in dentistry, Doc.

    Darrell Pruitt DDS


  3. COVID-19

    Coronavirus in a dental practice might be even become less popular than a data breach… especially if it kills someone’s grandmother.
    Last month, the American Dental Association published a pdf titled, “What to Do if Someone on Your Staff Tests Positive for COVID-19.”

    ADA: What to Do if Someone on Your Staff Tests Positive for COVID-19
    Last Updated: April 15, 2020 1 What to Do if Someone on Your Staff Tests Positive for COVID-19 You or someone on your staff has a confirmed case of COVID-19 [].

    I had imagined the painful business interruption caused by dentists and/or staff members being suddenly quarantined for two weeks. But it hadn’t occurred to me that every patient the infected staff member treated must be told that they need to quarantine as well. This will bankrupt struggling dental practices.

    See Item 7: “Contact all patients who may have had contact with the COVID-19 positive individual to determine whether they’re symptomatic. Recommend that they self-quarantine for 14 days and notify their physician if symptoms develop.”

    Dental offices must test everyone who enters the office, every day. It’s the aerosol. Don’t believe me? Give it another

    Darrell Pruitt, DDS


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