Dental hygienists voice concerns about opening amid COVID-19

Published: May. 27, 2020 at 10:16 PM CDT
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Some dental hygienists are expressing concerns about allowing people back in the chair too soon.

Angie Stone took to Facebook to speak her mind. The 40 minute video generated over 13,000 views.

Stone is a dental hygienist and CEO of HyLife Oral Health Alliance. She said people should know what they're signing up for when they make an appointment for the dentist.

"Not understanding if COVID-19 is hanging in the air for a certain amount of time, and if patients can get Covid from an asymptomatic patient or we get it ourselves," she said.

Stone said mouth cleaning equipment, like the rinsing tool, can create aerosols, and if a patient has Covid, the water droplets can cause the virus to spread.

Stone surveyed nearly 580 dental hygienists and assistants. She found 88 percent of them share the same concerns.

"A lot of us are uneasy," she said.

The latest guidelines from the CDC, OSHA, and the Wisconsin Dental Association urges practices to ditch the tools that create aerosols to lower the risk of spreading the virus.

Stone said that makes their job nearly impossible.

"We cannot provide a great bacterial disruption and make a mouth healthy without these instruments," Stone said.

Fred Eichmiller, DDS, is the vice president and science officer of Delta Dental of Wisconsin.

"There will be a difference in the way dentistry is delivered,” he said. "I have every bit of confidence that the guidelines they provided will be effective."

He said everyone needs to get on board with the guidelines.

"Though they changed, they have prepared well and it is safe for patients to be back at the dental office," Eichmiller said.

“I still don't know if my patients are safe. I need more information,” Stone said.

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