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Dentists, orthodontists seeing patients under new guidelines

NATCHEZ — Natchez dentists and orthodontists are now seeing both essential and non-essential patients as COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners have now moved into phase 4.

Up until May 18, dentists and orthodontists could only perform non-essential emergency services for low-risk patients.

Under phase 4, dentists and orthodontists may perform essential and non-essential services to all patients, including patients who are undergoing regular checkups.

Before any dental appointment, Dr. Brennan O’Brien said he communicates with his patients via email, text or telephone calls to inform them of the new guidelines.

“At the visit, the patients are instructed to remain in their vehicle,” O’Brien said. “Then, the patient is met by a staff member wearing a mask and gloves for a screening process.”

During the screening process, a staff member takes the patient’s temperature, asks the patient a series of health questions, including whether the patient has any exposure to COVID-19 or if the patient has any presence of any other infection.

The same screening process is happening at Miss-Lou Family Dentistry and other dentist and orthodontist offices in Natchez.

Dallas Morris, general manager for Miss-Lou Family Dentistry, said he is excited to see his regular patients again.

“One of the things to fight the coronavirus is to be healthy,” Morris said. “We feel that we can keep Natchez residents healthy, especially when it comes to their gums and teeth.”

Some supplies are limited and are holding back some dentist offices from offering the services they would like to be able to offer.

“Even though we’re reopened, we are still limited in what we can do because the protection devices that we need are not available yet,” said Dr. Dween Muse, an orthodontist in Natchez. “The hardest thing is that a lot of the safety equipment that I need is not purchasable. I have to have a special suction device and they are not available yet. It is very hard to buy an N-95 mask.”

CDC COVID-19 dental patient disclosure questions

  • Do you have a fever or above normal temperature?
  • Have you experienced shortness of breath or had trouble breathing?
  • Do you have a dry cough?
  • Have you tested positive for COVID-19?
  • Have you traveled within the U.S. by air, bus or train within the past 14 days?