Dental Offices Can Begin Reopening for Routine Care in Illinois

Previously, offices had been reduced to emergency and urgent services only

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Beginning Monday, dentists can begin resuming "routine oral and dental care" under new guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"IDPH has carefully monitored the daily number of newly reported COVID-19 cases. If the trend continues as anticipated, certain models indicate there will likely be a decrease in the burden of COVID-19 illness in Illinois towards the end of May 2020," the department wrote on its website. "With that in mind, there is a need for a plan to resume safe and routine oral and dental treatment."

Previously, offices had been reduced to emergency and urgent services only, as many dental procedures "produce both droplets and aerosols," which are believed to transmit coronavirus from infected people.

"These may be inhaled and are potential vehicles of transmission between a patient and oral health provider, staff, and other patients in the facility," IDPH's website reads.

The Illinois State Dental Society said it was excited for the change in guidance but noted "we are all still very mindful of the transmission risks of this disease."

IDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend some precautions for oral health providers.

Among those is using "airborne isolation rooms" for aerosolization procedures, using techniques to reduce aerosolization, deferring procedures for patients with increased vulnerability to coronavirus, symptom screening, use of PPE and considering risks before performing a procedure.

The organizations also note that dentists could choose to require patients be tested for coronavirus prior to seeking treatment.

"It should be recognized that false-negative test results occur, and an individual could begin shedding virus the day after a negative test result is obtained," IDPH states.

The full guidance can be found here.

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