Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York dentists can reopen statewide starting Monday, June 1.
“The reduction in New York’s new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, intubations and other metrics represent tremendous progress from where we were,” Cuomo said during his conference on Sunday, May 31. “We have gone through hell and back – we are on the other side and it’s a lesson for all of us, and we need to stay vigilant as we reopen different parts of the state so that we don’t backslide. I am also authorizing dentists to resume their practices statewide starting tomorrow as long as they follow health and safety guidelines that the state is laying out and that we have been discussing with them.”
Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis was a major advocate of reopening. On May 14, she wrote a letter to Cuomo with colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference to ask that dentists be allowed to return to work.
“I’m glad the governor listened to the concerns expressed by dentists, patients and legislators from around the state,” she told this paper. “Dentistry is an essential service and, with the proper precautions and PPE, these medical professionals can once again use their extensive training, expertise and discretion to care for their patients.”
Back in mid-May, dentists agreed with the assemblymember about the importance of reopening their offices.
“Orthodontic patients are usually children who are in the middle of treatment with metal wires and other pieces in their mouths that can be very harmful if not regularly checked,” said Dr. Peter Costalos, an orthodontist in Brooklyn. “The pause has neglected to consider patients in the middle of treatment.”
In the letter, Malliotakis stated the importance of reopening.
“We can’t lose sight of the fact this this profession has always maintained the highest level and use of PPE protection,” the letter stated. “No other medical practice has such stringent guidelines. These organizations have been successfully dealing with many pandemics and outbreaks, including the AIDS crisis, so we can be assured that their effort to return to work will be both a smooth and positive one that prioritizes the health and safety of their patients, staff and themselves.”
The letter added that further delay in resuming dental procedures could lead to serious health concerns.
“We have also heard from patients who are experiencing issues that can turn into emergencies if left untreated,” she wrote. “Tooth infections, gum issues, maintenance of braces and the like can lead to significant pain, damage and infection that could require surgery if left untreated. We can trust these professionals to open up their practices utilizing the most stringent guidelines that they have always followed in their practices.”