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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Dentists offices allowed to reopen May 1, workers ask for more protective equipment

Dentist offices are getting ready to reopen this weekend, but some dental workers don't think they're ready.

AUSTIN, Texas — Dentists can reopen and bring in patients on Friday, May 1, but some dental workers think they need more equipment before that happens. 

Registered dental hygienist Angela Fet said she doesn't think they're ready to get back to work like normal. 

"I would love to get back to work and see my patients and see my coworkers and get back into it. I also want to have the proper equipment to be able to do what I love to do," said Fet.

The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners is coming up with "emergency rules" for safe practice during the pandemic, according to the Texas Dental Association's website.

The TDA said they anticipate the TSBDE will meet soon to discuss emergency rules and potential limitations on dental practices and procedures. The TDA said they will represent the membership at this meeting and advocate for the full opening of Texas dental practices. They will provide the membership with an update as soon as an update is available. 

You can read their full statement about opening practices here

Those TSBDE rules haven't been released yet, but Fet believes they should start by giving dental workers what they need, like face shields, N-95 masks, hair covers, disposable gowns, gloves and disinfectant material.

"A lot of the equipment has gone to the hospitals, I fully understand that. They need them, but if you're going to open up a dental office, they're going to need them as well," said Fet. 

She said that without proper equipment for dental workers and patients, they can't do their jobs with peace of mind.

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"Our profession produces a lot of aerosols. For people who don't know, that's all the stuff that just lingers in the air with all the water when they rinse. When we have to spray, and that is where the COVID-19 they say is suspended in the air for four hours," said Fet. "Our main concern is getting our equipment, getting our supplies. I have to say that my doctor has been very diligent on looking for different products out there to help protect us." 

Fet suggests not to go to the dentist for a cleaning and to only go if you have an emergency. She said, come Friday, they can only do so much.

"We're becoming very frustrated because these items are very scarce and if we do find them, they are so expensive and it's becoming, again, very difficult," said Fet. 

The Texas Dental Association said dentists have to follow COVID-19 workplace safety rules if they decide to open.

"The TDA also continues to represent you and your patients. Now more than ever this is a time to come together, work together, and to get back to what we do best, which is to care for Texas dental patients and change their lives. Let’s get back to caring for Texans and let’s do it together," said TDA President Dr. Charles Miller. 

If you want to reach the TDA, you can email them at tda@tda.org.

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