Dental offices gradually reopening in Virginia; patient capacity dropped 50-percent

Virginia News
Terri Tiersky

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Dental offices are slowly reopening across the Commonwealth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, nearly all dental practices across Virginia are open and seeing patients.

“Our goal has been to establish safety protocols that minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and ensure the oral health of Virginians while focusing on the safety of our dentists, staffs and patients,” said Dr. Elizabeth Reynolds, president of the Virginia Dental Association. “While things aren’t yet back to normal, we are encouraged that most dental offices across the Commonwealth are open and serving the needs of their patients.”

Part of the new protocols include enhanced cleanings of office and equipment with EPA-approved disinfectants, which adds additional time between patients. These protocols have impacted patient volumes for dentists in public health settings disproportionately, which typically see a higher daily volume of patients.

Health Policy Institute survey released July 28 found maximum patient capacity had dropped by nearly 50 percent in public health settings and by one-third in private practice. 

Dental offices began seeing patients for non-emergency procedures in May after Governor Northam’s executive order expired. 

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