What to expect at your dentist

VIDEO: What to expect at your dentist office when it reopens

WASHINGTON — As Washington and the rest of the nation start to look toward Phase 2 of Governor Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, here's what to expect at your dentist's office when it reopens.

Dentists may be able to reopen as early as Tuesday, May 19, but some of them will remain closed partly because of the high risks of exposure to the coronavirus.

Reopening means taking serious precautions for dentists like Dr. Jae Hong with Washington Oral Surgery.

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While offices will be taking steps to maintain social distancing and minimize capacity, many feel that additional steps are required in such a high-risk setting.

“As a lot of these businesses are trying to open, dentistry is in a unique position,” he says.

People in dentistry are among those facing the highest risk for COVID-19 transmission for two reasons, according to Hong.

“Just proximity, you talk about 6 feet of social distancing? We’re within 6 inches,” he says. “Plus the second issue is the aerosols. We’re using instruments that cause a mist-like suspension so when the virus gets into that suspension, it lasts in the air much longer.”

Safety concerns are making a lot of dentists more hesitant about reopening, but, clients are growing desperate, he says.

“We haven’t been open for two months. After a while, emergencies just pile up.”

In addition to the guidelines set forth by state officials, Hong says he is taking additional steps to ensure safety for clients and staff.

“Our office has decided to go one step further and actually test everybody prior to their procedures,” he explains.

Some offices plan to pass along the cost of precautions to clients.