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180 Michigan dentists push to reopen clinics to non-emergency patients

Posted at 12:33 PM, May 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 13:52:53-04

ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — A group of nearly 200 dentists from around Michigan is pushing to re-open clinics to non-emergency patients.

Under Gov. Whitmer's current executive order dental offices, hospitals, and outpatient facilities must postpone non-essential services and procedures in order to prevent exposure to COVID-19.

"We’ve been treating all emergencies," said Dr. Jeff Haddad, a dentist in Rochester. But services like teeth cleaning, crowns, bridges, or anything that isn't required to relieve pain or maintain function is off the table until after May 28, when Michigan's states of emergency and disaster expire.

Dr. Haddad signed a letter to the Michigan Dental Association, demanding action. He said the longer patients stay away, small dental problems can become larger medical concerns.

“Just because it doesn’t hurt or fall out of your mouth doesn’t mean it’s not a problem waiting to happen," he told Action News. "Our profession is not elective. There’s very few things that we do that are elective. But unfortunately I feel like the message to the public is that all dentistry is elective and all dentistry can be postponed without repercussions which is not the case at all.”

The Michigan Dental Association said it’s been pushing to re-open offices, and spoke with Gov. Whitmer about the issue earlier this month. The MDA released the following statement:

The Michigan Dental Association earlier this month asked the governor to allow dental offices to reopen for routine care. Routine preventive care is critical to long-term health, and Michigan dentists should no longer put off seeing patients. Dental disease affects not only the mouth, but, if left undiagnosed and untreated, systemic health as well."

Dr. Haddad said in addition to extra sanitation measures and more PPE than usual, his office is making sure emergency patients are as spaced out as much as possible, something he said he’ll continue.

“We’re keeping and scheduling patients accordingly so there’s less patients in the office, less overlap of patients. And this point we’re even calling patients in their car when we’re ready to have them come in.”

Restrictions on elective medical and dental procedures are tied to Michigan's states of emergency and disaster, in place through May 28.

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