Dental Hygienists Say They're Worried About Work, But Dentists Say It's Safe

Apr 30, 2020

Dentists can resume office procedures on Friday, after being shut down last month to preserve personal protective equipment for health care workers fighting COVID-19. But some dental employees say they have serious reservations about whether there will be enough PPE to protect them as they see patients.

Dentists and veterinarians are permitted to resume operations for the first time since March 17, when an order shutting down all elective surgeries was signed. Dentists have been able to refer patients to specialists or to deal with emergencies.

Dr. Tom Paumier with the Ohio Dental Association said some dentists donated their PPE supplies such as masks and gloves. But he said most will have enough PPE to open.

However, some hygienists say they fear that’s not the case. Through emails and phone interviews, some hygienists said they're concerned that dental offices will open anyway, which they say would be a public safety risk.

But Paumier said his Canton office will be open Monday, and safety is the priority.

“Every individual will have to weigh their own risk tolerance as to what they feel is absolutely necessary for them to go back to work and every employer will honor that," Paumier said.

Paumier said some dentists are hanging on by a thread because of the financial impact of the shutdown, but he said those that would reopen when they aren’t fully prepared aren’t doing so ethically.