New guidelines for reopening Connecticut’s dental offices for more than emergency care have been issued by Gov. Ned Lamont’s office, including requiring full personal protective equipment (PPE) for all employees and setting strict sanitation standards.
The new guidelines were issued as some businesses in Connecticut, including some dental offices, prepare to resume modified operations Wednesday.
Dental offices will be required to provide N95 respirator masks, gowns and gloves for dental hygienists and dentists, to allow at-risk employees to stay home for now if they’re afraid of infections, and to screen employees and patients for COVID-19 related symptoms.
All waiting room items that patients might touch, including magazines and coat racks, are to be removed. Dentists will also be required to keep a two-week supply of PPE on hand. Employees will be given at least one hour for hygiene procedures and a minimum of 30 minutes between procedures to disinfect and prepare the room and equipment for another patient.
Some dental hygienists in Connecticut have expressed concerns about the risks of infection that will arise from returning to routine work where they will be in close contact with patients. A message from the Connecticut Dental Hygienists Association posted on the organization’s website said the new guidelines “will address most if not all of your general questions.”
Connecticut’s dental offices were never ordered to completely close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but Lamont’s office urged that only emergency procedures and care be performed and that routine procedures, like cleanings, be postponed.
The guidelines for resuming non-urgent care were developed by a working group that included dentists, dental assistants and hygienists and state health officials.
Lamont praised the recommendations made by the working group, saying the guidelines were put together over a five-day period and the group “reached a consensus on the final guidance document.”