Some dentists say many COVID-19 safety precautions may outlast pandemic

Sarah Schulte Image
Tuesday, May 12, 2020

GURNEE, Ill. (WLS) -- Chicago-area dentists and orthodontists are starting to get back to business, but changes are needed as they get back to work.

Before you walk in the door at the dentist, your temperature is taken and there is a COVID questionnaire to fill out. It's the now standard procedure at this Gurnee Orthodontics office that shares space with a dentist practice.

"I'm confident we are doing everything necessary for the safety of patients and for the people who work here," said Dr.Terry Sellke-Orthodontics Specialist of Lake County.

At Orthodontics Specialist of Lake County everything necessary means new filtration systems with UV light, sterilizing an entire area after each patient, proper PPE when looking into a patients mouth and to maintain social distancing. Patients are placed in every other chair and parents must stay away.

"I wait out here with my mask on and keep mine on the whole time," said Danielle Mann, the mom of a patient."

While the business closed, Sellke was able to use some existing technology called dental monitoring to see patients.

"What dental monitoring is, is the ability for a patient to do scan of their teeth with artificial intelligence. It allows me to do virtual house calls," Sellke explained.

"They are being monitored on a weekly basis, and we don't have to leave our home," said Amy Duff, a patient's parent.

While orthodontists are moving forward, it's more of a challenge for dentists to begin doing elective procedures.

"A big concern is the availability of the PPE right now it is very difficult to get, there is a lot of price gouging going on," said Dr. Dennis Dobrin.

Dobrin is hoping to procure some PPE by June. If so, the practice will only see one patient an hour and reduce staff by 50 percent at a time. The hours of operation will be extended.

Orthodontics and dentistry may never return to the same again. The doctors said many of the safety precautions may outlast COVID -19