Indiana dentists now allowed to see patients beyond emergency procedures

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana dental offices can now begin seeing patients for more than emergency procedures.

While the governor’s stay-at-home order is still in place, patients will be able to receive the care they need.

“For those people that need to come and see the dentist, the fact that our hands are untied if you will feels good,” says Dr. Brent Barta with West 10th Dental Group. “I just feel more empowered to take care of the patients as they come into the practice.”

Barta says they will not operate at full capacity this week. I may even take a few weeks to reach full capacity.

West 10th Dental Group plans to change the waiting room configuration and place a person at the door to screen incoming patients.

“It’s inherently going to slow down our practice and I think we’ll adjust that necessarily with what’s going on with the virus,” says Barta.

Some dentists believe offices are opening too soon, putting patients and staff at risk.

The Indiana Dental Association told FOX59 some of the tools used in dentistry make it difficult to keep patients and staff safe from the coronavirus.

Steve Hollar, Vice President of the Indiana Dental Association and Chair of the IDA’s COVID-19 Task Force, explains that aerosol tools, like a drill, are necessary to maintain oral health.

“Those aerosols have been around for a long long time it’s not like they are brand new but clearly with COVID-19 the transmission is through the air,” said Hollar.

Dr. Barta believes practices put in place decades ago will help protect his staff. Those precautions he points out are meant to protect dentists from HIV, H1N1, hepatitis and SARS.

“The universal precautions that we’ve had in place that we’ve had since 1985 are there to protect us against diseases that are indeed more deadly than the Covid virus – Not to make light of this virus and the fact that it’s highly contagious,” says Barta.

Still, Barta says they will not push beyond what is prudent. He recommends patients that may be vulnerable to the virus hold off on scheduling routine appointments.

As a practitioner, Barta says it feels good knowing they can be there for their patients in need.

“To feel like your hands are tied is a little bit frustrating and a little bit disappointing when you have to tell a patient, ‘No we can’t take care of you today.'”

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