Good Question: What about dentist appointments?

A viewer named Paul asked News10NBC’s Brennan Somers: Could you tell us what phase the dentist fits in the scope of things, please?

That’s a good question. Right now there’s confusion for dentists all over New York.

They’ve been forced to cut non-essential procedures and only treat emergencies during this shutdown. They are still waiting for clear guidance from the state when it comes to appointments like teeth cleaning.

The state has posted this message on its NYS Dental Association website:

This is a very fluid situation and can change at any moment. We will update you as soon as we receive new information.

Let me describe the situation as it stands today, May 14, at 11:30 am:

  • At this moment Dentistry is still considered an essential business for emergency and urgent dental treatments only in all areas of New York. Until we have a definitive response from the Department of Health, dental offices should not plan to reopen for other services until we receive clearance from the state.
  • We are working with the Department of Health to either allow dentists to return to full practice without restriction or to at least expand the services allowed to include necessary and more preventative care. We are also asking that when any such changes are made, that they apply to all dentists throughout the state at the same time. However, there is a chance the changes would be implemented on a regional basis relative to the level of COVID-19 in a particular region. At this time, the Department of Health has not made a decision in this matter.
  • Through the efforts of the ADA & NYSDA, dental practices have been moved up on the priority list for receiving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from seventh to fourth highest, and we continue to advocate for improving our standing even further.
  • As we receive new and updated information about reopening your offices, we will update our website. Today’s update is available at

Somers has spoken with reps at the NYSDA about reopening, because, at this point, phase one does not allow the full return of routine dentistry.

The association said this is a situation that can change daily, even by region, across New York. The group is telling members they are “an essential business for emergency and urgent dental treatments only in all areas of New York.”

Bob Duffy with the Chamber of Commerce said this has been a big talking point for opening clinics in the Finger Lakes and in Rochester.

The NYSDA is strongly advocating with the Governor and the Department of Health for dental offices to return to full service as quickly as possible. However, dentists have said their staff and patients face some of the highest risks of transmission during this COVID-19 outbreak because of how close they are in a room and equipment that could keep the virus in the air longer.

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