Reopening California: SF dentist says 'dental office may be safer than going to the grocery store'

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Dentists across the Bay Area are preparing reopen, but not without major challenges in front of them.

In San Francisco, the city says a COVID-19 test is required for any patient where a dental aerosol is used, which is most including cleanings.

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The only exception is for emergency procedures, which are now allowed to be done without testing.

"If you're coming in for a routine procedure then you will need to be tested for COVID at least 3-4 days in advance, we'll need to know that you're negative before entering into the office," say Dr. Antigone Skoulas, who is a dentist in San Francisco's Union Square.

She says the procedure is designed to be a big help, but there are flaws in the fact that it is not universal among all cities.

There is also a time period after the test is taken that someone could contract the virus.

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While she's concerned that some of her patients could opt to go to other offices in other cities without the COVID testing policy, she's optimistic that they will stay.

Dr. Carliza Marcos says the biggest challenge for her office in San Mateo is keeping the current two-week recommendation of protective gear in stock, "the N95's are still a big challenge. A lot of them are coming out to be fake."

Dr. Marcos says her office has worked hard to get proper masks and other equipment in stock. They plan to use face shields, glasses, and N95 masks with an additional L3 surgical mask.

The items have come at a hefty cost too. The N95 masks are selling for anywhere from seven to 26 dollars each, some of which could get passed to the patients.

Both Dr. Marcos and Skoulas say they are so hopeful their patients will come back, and trust them to provide the safest of atmospheres. Dr. Marcos believes, "the dental office may be safer than going to the grocery store."

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