Washington, D.C.—This morning, U.S. Senator Susan Collins relayed to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield the frustration she has heard from dentists across Maine who have been unable to reopen their practices despite following strict infection control protocols. Senator Collins also emphasized the health consequences of dental office closures.
“Dentists tell me that teeth with cavities that could have been filled are now going to need root canals. Teeth that could have been treated with root canals are now going to require extractions. People with oral cancers cannot get the treatment, the cleanings, that they need before beginning their treatment,” said Senator Collins.
Dental practices in 47 other states have reopened or have a day set to reopen, but official guidance from the CDC has yet to be issued.
“[M]y question to you is this,” Senator Collins told Dr. Redfield. “If dentists are following the American Dental Association guidelines; if they’re instituting strict protective measures for their patients, their staffs, their hygienists, and themselves; and if they’re closely examining and seeing a decline in the number of COVID-19 infections in their county, are these reasonable factors for states to consider in reopening the practice of dentistry?”
Dr. Redfield agreed with Senator Collins that it is important to follow the American Dental Association’s guidelines and said that the CDC is working on providing specific guidance for dental practices.
Following today’s hearing, Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew announced that unless Maine receives updated CDC guidance by May 18th, the state will defer to the recommendations of the American Dental Association and Maine Dental Association.
Senator Collins, a member of the Senate Health Committee, made those comments at a hearing focused on what federal, state and local governments are doing to help Americans go back to work and back to school as rapidly and safely as possible. Today’s hearing featured testimony from officials at HHS—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).