May 13, 2020
Jon Ryder, D.D.S., M.S., dean of the College of Dental Medicine, was recently interviewed by NEWS CENTER Maine about the closure of the state’s dental offices, for everything except emergency procedures, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The closure includes UNE’s Oral Health Center (OHC).
“I am not advocating for something premature,” Ryder told NEWS CENTER Maine. “We want to follow the CDC guidelines and follow proper protocol, but I think having some timeline in place and a plan is better than saying things are closed indefinitely."
The OHC is typically a very busy place, with students treating more than 600 patients a week. Further delays in resuming dental practice could impact the plans of study for students, their capability to progress in their training, and the ability for them to graduate on time. Students also gain valuable experience in Maine dental offices through externships. If students are forced out of state for externships, they may settle in those states instead of returning to Maine to become dentists here.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), Maine is one of only 11 states that has not allowed dental practices to reopen for routine care, and it is the only state that does not have a reopening plan.
The concern for Ryder and other dentists is that the conditions of patients who have minor oral health issues can deteriorate quickly.
“They have minor, or what may have been minor cases, that are transitioning into emergency situations,” he explained.