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Is it safe to go to the dentist? Here's what parents need to know

Read this before booking an appointment.

Written by
Oliver Strand

UPDATED JUNE 1, 2020: Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that dentist offices can reopen throughout New York State starting today, speeding up the timeline outlined in an earlier plan for phased reopenings. All dentists offices must follow new guidelines, which include:

• Encourage patients to wait outside (not in the waiting room)
• Stagger arrival and departure times
• Reduce staff to accommodate social distancing 
• Limit or avoid aerosol-generating procedures including dental hand pieces, air/water syringe and ultrasonic scalers; use hand instruments instead

It's a question on the minds of many parents: Is it OK to take my kid to the dentist?

After all, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children make a visit every six months. However, since Governor Andrew Cuomo put New York State on PAUSE several weeks ago, there's a good chance that your child already missed a scheduled appointment or is about to miss a planned checkup.

All dental offices in New York State are currently closed except for emergency and urgent procedures, according to the New York State Dental Association. In other words, you cannot take your child to the dentist unless it's an emergency.

That means no checkups, no cleanings, no standard treatments for both pediatric and regular dentists. Going to the dentist is one of the things that families cannot do in New York City right now.

That might change in some regions of New York State as the Governor allows businesses to resume as a part of the state's staged reopening. Six regions in northern and central New York were approved for Phase 1. Dental offices are Phase 2 businesses

At this time, New York City doesn't meet the criteria for Phase 1, and will continue to be on PAUSE. Only after New York City is open for Phase I will the city be considered for Phase 2. Schools are a part of Phase 4, and might not reopen in the fall—click here for our most recent updates of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Another Phase 2 business? Hair salons. Until then, maybe you should take some professional advice on how to cut your child's hair at home.

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