WATSONTOWN – A Valley Dentist is swamped in ‘catch-up mode’ after the Pennsylvania Department of Health released new guidelines for dental offices that allow them to start safely offering routine cleanings.
Dr. Carl Jenkins in Watsontown says he’s happy to have his office fully reopened, “Now we’re in a phase where we’ve opened routine dentistry, but we still have to use strict CDC interim guidelines. I have to stress, these are things dentists have done for a very long time. Yes, there are new elements to it, and we’ve adapted to that very well.”
Dr. Jenkins says those guidelines include pre-screening patients before coming in for appointments, as well as screening them again when they visit the office. Employees are also screened.
But, Dr. Jenkins says there are number of other issues, including some patients whose conditions have worsened from not having routine check-ups, “Especially if they happen to suffer from periodontal disease, those issues get worse and worse over time. But other people with other decaying problems that may have been salvageable with simply fillings can now start to become more of a problem, and we’re a little behind right now, and doing our best to work with our patients to catch up.”
He says that’s because before and after the guidelines were released, his office was forced to prioritize patients based on urgency of needs, but patients have been understanding.
Dr. Jenkins says dentist offices also continue to have issues maintaining enough PPE, “The American Dental Association is providing some from FEMA, but one of the challenges is making sure if we keep searching for other searches online that what we’re finding is legitimate products, so that’s one of the problems with the state holding back and keeping these things in warehouses.”
Other than the precautionary measures already being taken, Dr. Jenkins says not a whole lot has changed to protect patients from COVID-19. But, he says they’re clear enough where dentists know they can do what’s best for their patients safely.