WASHINGTON — Maine Sen. Susan Collins grilled top health officials on Tuesday over when dentists would be able to reopen as the coronavirus pandemic continues, amid reports of people taking the extreme measure of pulling out their own teeth.
The American Dental Association recommended that dentists stay closed for non-emergency procedures until April 30, but many surgeries remain shuttered as states decide their own course in how to reopen.
“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,” Collins said.
“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 Republican lawmaker continued.
Dentists were told to close at the start of the outbreak amid concerns they would use up protective equipment like masks which were in critically-short supply in hospitals across the nation.
At least one man extracted his own tooth last month after it began causing him excruciating pain and he was unable to have it removed.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the CDC is working with state authorities on when to reopen dental offices.
“We are in the process of updating those guidelines and they will include direct guidelines for dental practices,” he said during a Senate hearing into the government’s coronavirus response.
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