NEW YORK____Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C,I- Brooklyn, Staten Island) has spearheaded the effort to reopen dentist offices in New York. Malliotakis said New York State Dental Association (NYSDA) and its members are now fully prepared to restore all dental services to patients as essential health care services, and are concerned that many patients are experiencing issues that can turn into emergencies if left untreated. Issues such as tooth infections, gum issues, maintenance of braces and the like can lead to significant pain, damage and infection if left untreated.
“The American Dental Association (ADA), working with NYSDA, has a plan to reopen dental offices for all dental services,” said Malliotakis. “The plan, which has been shared with the New York State Department of Health, is both comprehensive and a thoughtful guide that can be tailored for many other businesses. We can’t lose sight of the fact that this profession has always maintained the highest level and use of PPE protection. No other medical practice has such stringent guidelines. These organizations have been successfully dealing with many pandemics and outbreaks, including the AIDS crisis, so we can be assured that their efforts to return to work will be both a smooth and positive one that prioritizes the health and safety of their patients, staff and themselves.”
Brooklyn and Staten Island dentists agree:
“Undiagnosed dental health issues can include the risk of debilitating pain and local oral infections that can progress into severe, even life-threatening head and neck infections,” said Charles Mistretta, President of the Richmond County Dental Society. “Additionally, a lack of oral care affects patients with chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. The inability to access care for months can cause dental problems that could exacerbate or worsen their systemic illness. It is extremely urgent that we have the current mandate as it applies to dental care lifted. At a minimum, allowing dental professionals to return to practice using their professional judgment, including strict adherence to CDC and Personal Protective Equipment guidelines to treat the needs of their patients without external and narrow restriction, is vital to the health of our patients, their families and the community.
“Orthodontic patients are usually children who are in the middle of treatment with metal wires and other pieces in their mouths that can be very harmful if not regularly checked. The pause has neglected to consider patients in the middle of treatment,” said Dr. Peter Costalos, an orthodontist in Brooklyn.
Malliotakis wrote to the governor individually and along with her colleagues in the Assembly Minority Conference urging him to open dentist offices. Attached below are both letters regarding this issue.
She has also been making a push to resume elective surgeries & preventive procedures throughout ALL 62 counties after hearing from constituents who have had their hip replacement surgery, glaucoma surgery, mastectomy and other necessary procedures put on hold and delayed for months. Malliotakis has consulted with members of the local Medical Society who have also indicated that procedures such as endoscopies, colonoscopies, joint injections, cystoscopies, biopsies, and gynecological office procedures can resume safely in an office setting, yet they are still prohibited. These procedures are important to determine whether a patient has a more serious condition that needs to be addressed in a timely manner. Elective surgeries and procedures are only allowed in 49 of New York’s 62 counties.