Dentists urge White House to provide offices with COVID-19 tests before reopening

Dentists are asking government officials for COVID-19 tests before reopening, according to The Hill.

"Enabling dentists to test patients prior to dental treatment will help lower the 'very high exposure risk' of dental personnel in contracting COVID-19 when treating infected but asymptomatic patients," American Dental Association President Chad Gehani, DDS, wrote in a letter to HHS. "It would add a layer of safety for both dental personnel and the patients they treat."

Dental professionals are at risk for exposure to COVID-19, according to the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Dentists should use a negative pressure room or high-input suction devices to reduce exposure. However, many offices don't have access to such tools, or even effective personal protective equipment, according to Steven Guttenberg, DDS, MD, president of the District of Columbia Dental Society.

Rep. Brian Babin, DDS, R-Texas, addressed White House officials April 20 about dental offices receiving testing kits. Rep. Mike Simpson, DMD, R-Idaho, said the push for testing kits would help reopen the economy safely.

The ADA asked HHS for dentists to be classified as "covered persons" under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which would extend protection from liability.

Many dentists have said that if they reopen without the tests or necessary tools to eliminate aerosol germs, they'll feel obligated to inform patients of such shortcomings.

HHS did not respond to The Hill's request for comment.

More articles on dental:
Senate passes $484 billion aid package for small businesses, COVID-19 testing
10 states most, least slowed down by COVID-19
Virginia dentist's business drops 90% during lockdown, though patients seem eager to visit

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