PORTLAND, Maine — Earlier this week there was some confusion about dental practices being allowed to reopen for non-emergency patients under Governor Janet Mills' first phase in her plan to reopen Maine.
On Thursday state officials said dental practices must continue to follow CDC guidelines.
The guidance issued in March at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic recommends that dentists should only perform urgent and emergency care.
Dentists and hygienists are at very high risk for infections due to close patient contact—spraying aerosols from dental instruments and direct exposure to patient's blood and saliva.
Practices that are seeing emergency patients are wearing layers of personal protective equipment (PPE), screening patients, and wearing N95 or surgical masks with full face shields.
Some practices are also starting to prepare for the possibility of reopening.
But suppliers have run out of PPE and many items are back-ordered.
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Dr. Durwin Libby is a dentist in Lincoln.
"N95 masks are probably the hardest thing to come by right now I talked to our representatives recently they are waiting to get stuff in," Dr. Libby said.
Some practices are working with other health care providers and associations to try to locate more PPE, but the CDC says providers are on their own when it comes to providing protective equipment.
"At this current time, those guidelines do say we should be postponing elective treatment that was comforting to get that piece," Sarah Clark, President of the Maine Dental Hygienist's Association, said. "I do know there was a lot of confusion."
Read more information on Mill's plan to reopen Maine here.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
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