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Texas dentists rebut WHO guidance that called for delay in routine dental visits

"I would tell you there is no safer place to go, other than an operating room, than a dental office," said Dr. Brad Boeke of Bayside Dental in Rowlett.

DALLAS — Despite a recent recommendation from the World Health Organization that routine dental visits "be delayed" to guard against the transmission of COVID-19, north Texas dentists, backed by opposing advice from the American Dental Association, say business is booming and is completely safe.

"I think that statement when it came out was surprising because it felt a little bit out of nowhere," Dr. R.J. Loera of Town East Dental Group said of the WHO guidance.

"When they hear something like the WHO puts out, they don't want to come in," Dr. Brad Boeke of Bayside Dental in Rowlett said of his patients. "When I know in fact, as for my patients, the best thing for them is to come in."

The World Health Organization guidance, issued in early August, recommended a delay for "routine non-essential oral health care"..."until there has been sufficient reduction in COVID-19 transmission rates from community transmission to cluster cases or according to official recommendations at national, sub-national or local level. The same applies to aesthetic dental treatments. However, urgent or emergency oral health care interventions that are vital for preserving a person's oral functioning, managing severe pain or securing quality of life should be provided."

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The American Dental Association, in contrast, responded by saying it "strongly disagrees" with the WHO recommendation.

"Oral health is integral to overall health. Dentistry is essential health care," said ADA President Chad P. Gehani, D.D.S. "Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health."

Boeke, who has added an aerosol disinfectant fogger to his cleaning regimen, agrees that minor dental problems shouldn't be ignored: that they can become much more serious dental and overall health issues.

"Dentists have been practicing infection control since the HIV crisis of the '80s. We were wearing PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] before we knew it was called PPE," Boeke said. "We've been practicing this kind of disinfection for 25-30 years so this is nothing new for us."

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"We're taking the best care possible of them and putting all these additional precautions in place to keep them safe and ourselves," added Loera, who says his patients are pre-screened before even arriving at his Mesquite offices and that their temperatures are taken before they enter.

The good news for both dentists is that business is brisk right now. They say they have bookings several weeks in advance from patients who put off their visits at the start of the pandemic. And they would like business, and patient confidence, to stay that way.

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"I would tell you there is no safer place to go, other than an operating room than a dental office," said Boeke.

Dental offices they promise to keep safe, pandemic or not.