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'Rules are changing by the hour' | Dentists step up precautions as state reopens

As business across the state reopening this week, many are wondering what dentist offices should do to protect clients and employees.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The state of Tennessee is set to gradually reopen businesses this week, and many are asking about what this will look like for dentists' offices.

Many people said they are concerned about whether offices will be able to supply appropriate protective equipment, aerosols and more for dental hygienists. 

On April 27 the CDC added a set of revisions to its original recommendations, saying everyone entering a dental setting must have a mouth covering as well as screen people as they come into the building. They said offices should postpone elective procedures and communicate possible symptoms of coronavirus to team members and clients.

The American Dentists Association also released a tool kit with information about reopening offices.

While businesses prepare to reopen after closing to help slow the spread of COVID-19, local dentists are looking through the guidelines and preparing to reopen their doors. 

"Patient safety is our number one priority," Dr. Jack Haney said. 

He is a dentist in Knoxville and his office is working on a lot of measures to ramp up cleanliness. His plans include asking everyone to wear mouth coverings as well as increased screenings for workers and patients. He is also implementing social distancing in his office by adhering to the 6 feet rule.

"We're utilizing social distancing by asking people to wait in their cars or by spreading out our chairs in the reception area," Haney said.

His team members will also have face shields, coverings and he is looking at several options to sanitize the air in his office, such as high vacuum filtration systems. 

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He plans to reopen May 1 at 50% capacity, following safety recommendations.

But there are still plenty of questions about how the opening process will unfold and the concerns of some working in dentistry trying to protect themselves from infection.

Haney said the guidelines continue to get updated and as the days go on, there will probably be more information.

"Things are changing by the hour and I would expect they will continue to change over the next week," he said.

RELATED: What businesses opening in phase one of Knox County's plan need to know