Surgical masks are replaced with N-95 respirators, the dental drill is silent, and waiting-room magazines are gone. Your next trip to the dentist may be much different from what you’re used to.
Four decades after the AIDS epidemic changed dentistry, requiring providers to wear gloves and goggles for the first time, the novel coronavirus is challenging the industry again to step up its sanitizing standards as patients begin to return for routine care amid a global pandemic.
“Dentists are really great at infection control and being prepared to create safety,” said California Dental Assn. President Richard Nagy, a periodontist in Santa Barbara. “That’s what we’re good at, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration deems dentistry “very high risk” for coronavirus transmission, there have been no COVID-19 clusters linked to dental settings or among dental healthcare professionals, according to the CDC. But in March as