A reader provides this letter Tuesday from the Arkansas State Dental Association about their situation.


Guidelines issued today by the state will open the door to dental surgery next week, with a variety of health rules, but the question of general dental practice remains unsettled.

UPDATE: The subject came up at the governor’s news conference today.


The governor said the state had targeted May 18 for resumption of all dental procedures. Guidelines will be developed and the governor emphasized that May 18 was a goal and could change if “we’re not comfortable with that.” Dental surgery may resume Monday, but with standards that are stiffer than what would be required for other dental services. The return to work will be “staged,” Smith said, and not include all services immediately. He said the proposed guidelines will be released later today. Procedures that require a “lot of aerosol” likely won’t be among the procedures cleared initially.

The reader, with an interest in the health of dental hygienists, suggests asking more from the governor and Health Director Nate Smith.


As you can easily find out from your own research, dental hygienists are considered the riskiest professional for contracting COVID-19, due to proximity and aerosols created during normal job functions. Dental hygienists cannot practice safe social distancing and do their jobs—you lay in their laps. Dental hygienists cannot practice recommended mask protocols and do their jobs – – the patient obviously can’t wear a mask as recommended for a hygienist to work in their mouths!  The hygienists have their hands in the patient’s mouth, the potentially infectious mucous membrane, and all of the equipment used to polish and clean creates aerosols that spray back on them.  Dentistry does not have the appropriate PPE to do these jobs, such as N 95s and  face sheilds, and dentists who are buying these PPE items are buying them from the gray market, which the federal government has already warned  is putting in effective products on the market.  Dentists are  messaging their employees and telling them to report back to work on May 4, without appropriate PPE.

Dentists are using the above letter, being circulated by their professional association, which states that since there are no guidelines that contraindicate returning to work May 4, dentists can return to work as normal as they see fit, and as I outlined above put their employees at risk. Please use your powers of the press to advocate for the safety of dental hygienists.