Dental offices in the state have been limited to emergency and urgent care since March 20 due to concerns related to COVID-19, meaning that patients haven’t had full access to dental care for more than 60 days, according to the NYSDA. In a letter to Cuomo, the NYSDA said it is seeking immediate attention to the pressing need to provide patients with access to this care.
The letter also expressed concerns that continuing these limitations will have a negative impact on overall patient health and on the future viability of dental offices. With the flattening of the curve and the imminent implementation of state guidelines for enhanced safety practices, the NYSDA is urging all dental offices to be allowed to open immediately and not wait for phased openings and further delays.
“Remaining in emergent/urgent only status in New York has the potential to threaten overall patient health. Dental health is human health, and neglecting care can lead to serious health issues. Further delays in full dental care will move many day-to-day cases to emergency status, making the ultimate response more complex and expensive,” NYSDA executive director Mark J. Feldman said in the letter.
“Dental offices have been open for emergent/urgent care throughout this health crisis and have been handling these most challenging cases with extreme care. We are more than ready to extend these cautionary practices to all patients. If we can manage these most dire cases, we are certainly prepared to provide standard dental care,” Feldman said.
Dentists also are well prepared to safely open their practices using state guidelines, OSHA-approved precautions, and a long history of infection control and extreme care to ensure the safety of patients, doctors, and staff, Feldman said.
“With the experience, knowledge, and equipment gained over the past two months, dentists are well prepared to safely serve their patients,” said Feldman.
The NYSDA also is urging its 12,000 members to reach out to their state Senate and Assembly members to seek support for allowing all dental offices across New York to provide immediate full services to their patients. Of note, the NYSDA said, full service has been restored in neighboring states Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
The ADA has developed a comprehensive guide educating dentists about the modifications necessary to treat patients safely in the COVID-19 environment, the NYSDA said. Also, the NYSDA noted that it has served as a steady source of information for its members, which represent 70% of the dentists practicing in the state.
On behalf of its members, the NYSDA said it has been in continuing discussions with the offices of the Governor, Department of Health, and state and county officials on appropriate guidelines to ensure the safety of patients, doctors, and staff. In concert with the ADA, the NYSDA also said it has successfully advocated for a higher level of access to personal protective equipment for dental offices.