Dentist’s offices following strict guidelines after reopening amid COVID-19

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Alabama dentist’s offices were closed for seven weeks. They reopened May 1st, but a visit to the dentist these days looks a little different.

Beitel Pediatric Dentistry in Huntsville is following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Alabama Board of Dentistry.

“When their guidelines came out, some of it wasn’t a huge surprise,” Dr. Caroline Beitel Taylor said. “Some things that we were expecting that had come out along the way.”

Pediatric patients are screened with questions before their appointment time. They wait outside until it’s time to come in, and their temperature is taken at the door.

A visit to the dentist now may be more involved, but Dr. Taylor says it’s an essential service that’s important to provide.

“It’s definitely something that’s important to maintain consistency with,” she said.

Especially for children, who are often prone to more dental trauma.

“Cavities can progress really quickly, and we really want to keep our patients out of pain,” Dr. Taylor said. “Younger kids learning how to walk are more prone to falling, bumping their teeth, and older kids who are out and active outside, playing sports, jumping on trampolines, things like that, we do end up with quite a few of trauma-type emergency calls.”

Fewer patients are being seen at a time in the office to provide more safe space, and only one parent or guardian is allowed to accompany each child to limit people in the building.

“We’re really spacing out our patients, making sure there’s at least a chair length’s distance, which is about 10 plus feet,” Dr. Taylor said.

Employees are wearing more protective equipment around the office and during appointments.

In this pediatric office’s case, they’ve removed all toys and reading materials for the time being, because those items are more difficult to sanitize. They are also working extended hours to accommodate patients whose appointments were canceled while they were closed.

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