Nevadans need to know it’s safe to see their dentist

If you’re among the thousands of Nevadans who have been putting off a trip to the dentist, you should know that it’s not only safe, but crucial, that you come back for the care you need.

Dental offices in Nevada were ordered to close in March — one of the first to do so — for all but emergency procedures to comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fortunately, local dental offices were allowed to reopen in May, when the Nevada State Dental Health Officer released a comprehensive plan to safely resume essential and preventive dental procedures. The plan was approved by the state’s Medical Advisory Team and adopted by the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners.

Through the pandemic, our more than 2,000 dentists across Nevada and the nearly 10,000 Nevadans we employ have been doing our part for public health, as we always have. We’ve been here for our patients when they needed us.

As offices and businesses in the state start to reopen, we can confidently assure our patients that they are safe when they come for their next dental visit. Nevada dentists are open for all kinds of care, from routine cleanings and non-emergency procedures to urgent and unforeseen needs.

While few things are as they were before this pandemic hit, dentists are taking every precaution and have enhanced our already-strict standards of infection control for sanitizing our surroundings and instruments, providing the proper personal protective equipment to all our staff and patients, and enforcing social distancing measures that keep people from gathering in our waiting rooms and offices. We have also adjusted the way we clean teeth. Instead of using the ultrasonic (Cavitron) and hand instruments, we are only using hand instruments at this time to further reduce health risks for our patients and staff.

The Nevada Dental Association is committed to the health and well-being of all Nevadans, and we are urging state officials to revise Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 652.397 so Nevada dentists can administer COVID-19 antibody testing at our dental offices when a consistently reliable test becomes available. This will expand testing for this virus and establish metrics to shape strategy and ultimately prevent the spread of disease.

Oral health is essential for good overall health. As Nevadans rightly consider everything they can do to stay healthy during a global pandemic, dentists stand ready to deliver critical oral health care for their patients.

So don’t put off that visit to the dentist any longer. Help us keep Nevada in good health.

Dr. Mark Funke, DDS, is the president of the Nevada Dental Association.

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