The president of the California Dental Association (CDA) sent a letter to California Gov. Gavin Newsom on May 18 asking to open dental offices evenly across the state.
The letter expressed concern that the guidance on reopening has differed between the California Department of Public Health and local public health departments. On behalf of the association, CDA President Richard Nagy, DDS, called on Newsom to clearly communicate reopening updates to all levels of government and to ensure that counties with stricter regulations have them in place based on that region's local needs.
Dr. Nagy also noted that some California counties have conflicting or unclear guidance about how dental offices can open, what preventive measures they need to take, and what services they can provide. Furthermore, Dr. Nagy expressed concerns that some local guidance may provide an artificial barrier to care for patients.
For instance, San Francisco requires patients to be tested for COVID-19 before undergoing an aerosolizing or surgical procedure. Dr. Nagy noted that the guidance isn't feasible due to a lack of accurate rapid tests and that other, more accurate tests take days to process.
Dr. Nagy concluded by asking the state to find a way to more uniformly reopen dentistry and to create a process for issuing local guidance. Without alignment, he is worried that patients may seek dental care in counties with fewer restrictions.
"Without clarity and consistency, patients and consumers will simply seek services in less restrictive neighboring counties, further eroding progress on the disease mitigation goals and on the state's economic recovery," he wrote.