May 12, 2020
Dear MDA members,
Today Senator Susan Collins asked a very important question during the "COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and Back to School" hearing in Washington. She asked Dr. Robert R. Redfield, national CDC director about dentistry. I have transcribed the testimony but you can also view it here:
Senator Collins asks her questions starting at around 1:57:00 into the hearing.
My transcription of this part of the hearing:
Senator Collins: I am hearing from dentists all over the state of Maine that the fact that they cannot practice in our state despite following very strict infection control protocols is causing growing health problems. Dentists tell me that teeth with cavities that could have been filled are now going to need root canals. Teeth that could have been treated with root canals are now going to require extractions. People with oral cancers cannot get the treatment, the cleanings that they need before beginning their treatment. Dental health is clearly so important and Maine state officials as well as our dentists are seeking assistance in reaching the right decisions. 47 other states either have reopened dental practices or have a date set for them to re-open. So my question to you is this: If dentists are following the American Dental Association guidelines, if they are instituting strict protective measures for their patients, their staff, their hygienists, themselves and if they are closely examining and seeing a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections their county are these reasonable factors for states to consider in re-opening the practice of dentistry?
Dr. Redfield: Yes Senator. Thank you for the question. We have been interacting and talking with dentists and working with the state and local public health officials to update our guidelines on reopening a variety of medical services as you know. I think that you raise a very important point and I would not disagree with what you said about looking at the American Dental Association's as well as the reality of the outbreak in the area. But we are in the process of updating those guidelines, and they will include direct guidelines for dental practices.
I hope that this provides the clarity that Commissioner Lambrew needs in order to immediately allow the Maine Board of Dental Practice to issue new guidance to Maine dental licensees. Angela and I are scheduled to meet with her tomorrow.
Thank you for your continued support. We will keep working for a safe re-open strategy for patients, employees and Maine dentists.
Thank you for your continued advocacy.