As COVID-19 spreads, the Michigan Dental Association has advised all dental operations to close for the next two weeks with the exception of emergencies. The decision came after the executive committee met March 16. It issued the statement that afternoon.
“As dentists, we do not want to be responsible for someone getting sick,” said Michigan Dental Association President Margaret Gingrich. “We are here to take care of the population, not to cause harm.”
As information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued to come out, it was clear that closing was the best option.
“Dental offices are a very high-risk area. With a handpiece moving at a high speed, the aerosol that is put into the air hangs there and the COVID-19 stays there for quite some time,” Gingrich said. “So, even though you have treated the patient and exited the area, the virus is still there, not just on the surfaces, but in the air.”
Operations continued as normal for dental clinics in the days that led up to the closure. Extra precautions were taken, such as extended time between patients, but most precautions were just the standard health procedures.
“We assured the public that we were adhering to universal precautions,” dentist Adel Magid said. “We intensified our efforts to stay clean, not that we did not stay clean in the first place, but there’s a new emphasis on it.”
Magid is a private practice dentist at the Dental Center of Oxford. The center immediately closed following the statement from the Michigan Dental Association but will remain available for emergency appointments.
“I think it’s good for the public, it calms the people and reassures them that this is the right thing to do,”Magid said. “Hopefully it helps prevent the spread of the disease.”
While the Michigan Dental Association advised a two-week closure, the American Dental Association asked that three weeks be taken off, meaning it could go beyond the initial time. It will come down to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer potentially issuing an executive decision on the matter as well as more communication from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Regardless, the feeling is that any time being taken off for this is for the right cause.
“Patients have been very understanding and a lot of them are thanking us for looking out for their health,” Gingrich said. “Employees are happy that we have recommended this closure because they did not want to feel that they were obligated to go into work.”