Dentist offices face fiscal impact, readjust procedures to keep patients safe amid COVID-19

Durham County News

DURHAM, NC (WNCN) – Just about every business has been impacted by COVID-19 and that includes those who work in dentistry.

For about two months, dentist offices in the Triangle had been advised by the CDC to limit all procedures to emergency operations.

Now, many are reopening for full business.

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Dr. Lionel Nelson reopened his dentist’s office in Durham on May 12 after they had been closed since March 17.

However, he said that with social distancing measures in place now, they have had to cut down on the number of patients they see by 30 percent.

In addition, the staff at Nelson’s dentist office has to wear a lot more personal protective equipment and throw away a lot more equipment on a daily basis.

The equipment they are forced to wear includes surgical masks, hair wraps, face shields, and disposable coats.

He said this is all taking a financial toll on his dentist office as he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars during this pandemic.

“My biggest fear is uncertainty and a potential second wave and another month or two shut down,” Nelson said. “Because once we ramp back up and we purchase all the things we need, and then if we have to shut down again, then we have to go back through this process. That would be my concern and that’s why we all wear masks, even when patients aren’t in the office.”

Nelson said people can feel safe going to the dentist because they are taking all the necessary safety precautions to keep everyone safe.

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