Sacramento County dentists able to reopen for non-emergency procedures

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Sacramento County’s new public health order gives dentists the green light to reopen for non-emergency procedures.

It went into effect Friday night but many offices had their first full day of business Monday.

For the first time in weeks, Dr. Monica Crooks’ dental patients were back in her exam chair for preventative care. 

“I have over 2,000 fantastic, loyal, beautiful people that I take care of,” Dr. Crooks told FOX40. “I need to be available for those people.”

The county’s public health order is in contrast to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines, which still recommend dentists only provide emergency care.

Dr. Crooks’ choice to get back to business is personal.

“My dad’s sister died at age 18 from a dental abscess,” she said. “You don’t want to let a small dental problem become an emergency and now you have to deal with it and it’s 10 times worse for the patient in every aspect.”

She said she is stepping up safety measures to protect against COVID-19.

“We screen everybody,” Crooks explained. “So we screen them for temperature. You cannot come if you have a sniffle, sneeze, cough, cold or any time of fever.”

Every patient is required to wear a mask before their procedure and use disinfecting mouthwash. Her staff is also wearing N95 masks and face shields and disinfecting frequently.

But some dentists in the area are holding off on reopening until the California Department of Public Health releases specific safety guidelines.

“I really want to make sure I’m doing everything appropriately,” said Sacramento-area dentist Stephanie Sandretti.

Sandretti also serves as the chair of the California Dental Association’s Government Affairs Council. The nonprofit urges dentists to wait to see non-emergency patients until the state gives the OK.

Sandretti said even if she wanted to, reopening now would not be possible because she’s struggling to find the necessary protective gear.

“We don’t have a big hospital to back us and big purchasing power to go and buy a million masks,“ she said.

She said she is hoping the government will step in to help so she can get back to giving her patients a reason to smile.

The California Dental Association said it is hoping to receive those guidelines from the state within the next week.

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