Capital Region dentists are back in the office after sudden NYS reopening


CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Dentists say it’s about time they’re allowed to get patients back in the chair and fix up their smiles.

“My first thought is thank goodness, I don’t have to write another letter to local legislator or the governor,” says Dr. David Mitola.

However, with less than 24 hours notice, the pressure is on to get their offices ready.

“When you only get the call at 3 or 4 p.m. on Sunday, we just didn’t have time to get our staff trained for Monday,” explains Dr. Lindsey Battiste. “I’m anxious, you know these are new systems. I had a well oiled machine in March, and now I’ve got a new machine that I’ve got to get back there in the game.”

Pediatric dentist Dr. Batiste says the hardest part is rescheduling thousands of missed appointments. She says many of her kids are worse off now that they’ve missed their routine care.

“I had kids with swollen faces that needed to be getting treated. I had patients as the time went by that were calling me saying, Johnny’s got a toothache what do I do? And I looked at the schedule and said, well if Johnny was seen back at the end of March when he was supposed to be, he wouldn’t need this,” explains Dr. Battiste.

Offices are now adding on extra hours on top of socially distancing the waiting rooms, coronavirus symptom screenings and questionnaires, plus new equipment to keep clean. President of the Third District Dental Society Dr. Mitola says it’s actually the cleanliness that’s par for the course.

“Dentistry has a long history of strict infection control guidelines, and we continue to adhere to those. So these types of processes are new to us. We’re comfortable with them, we just had to get some new equipment and additional PPE,” he says.

Although they believe full dental care, not just emergencies, should have been made available in New York a long time ago, it did at least open up new opportunities.

“Increasing our systems, better training our staff, getting ready for the patients to come in. As much as it was a very frustrating situation, there were a lot of us in the same position, and I think the time off gave us a chance to reflect, see what’s really important,” Dr. Battiste says.

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