Dentists preparing for business again

When dentist offices return to taking normal appointments, and not just emergency visits, a lot will change.

From the chairs in the waiting room to the operating chair, new protocols are coming from American Dental Association, prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s going to be entirely different...the main thing is, how do we prevent cross-contamination from one patient to another,” said Dr. Richard Leong.

Leong showed FOX 35 News the new gear he will be wearing. New masks. More layers of protection.  Patients will have to adapt too.

Instead of one suction hose, how do you feel about two of them? The concern is droplets from your mouth could fly all over the room -- whirlwind of spit in small quarters. So Dr. Leong says the industry is re-evaluating every move a dentist makes.

“And anybody who has anything to do with dentistry is putting out a webinar and I’m loving it I’m just studying, studying, studying,” Leong said.

Dr. Leong has been a dentist for 50 years -he’s worried that new dentists are not going to be able to make enough money to get established and survive. That’s because instead of taking 8 to 10 patients a day it might go down to 3.

Air filtration systems that purify rooms five times every hour cost thousands of dollars. Dr. Leong thinks the time is right to phase back in routine cleanings, but at the time of this posting, the governor’s directions for Phase One don’t include dental hygienist visits. 

“It’s the age old controversy, people want to go back to work so they can make a living, but people are apprehensive... they don’t want to do it too soon... because we don’t want another outbreak,” Leong said.

The doctor has a lot of student-dentists come through.  He says he fears the new normal will scare people away from the profession. But Leong says there could come a time when these extreme measures are loosened too. To conduct this interview, the receptionist took our temperature with a forehead scanner and that will be the new normal for patients whether they’re coming in for a root canal or a cleaning.