With the Safter at Home order in effect, dentists around the state are preparing to start treating regular patients.
Ever since March 17, dental offices have only been allowed to see patients who have a dental emergency. However, they haven't just been waiting around to reopen.
"We've not been on vacation, that's for sure. I think most dentists would agree this has been a stressful time not knowing what was coming next, not knowing how long we would have to close our businesses. Being kept away from what we love to do every day," said Dr. Jennifer Perkins.
Dr. Perkins said beyond securing a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, the biggest hurdle for her practice, Perkins Dentistry, has been acquiring personal protective equipment or PPE.
Following an emergency meeting of the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners on Wednesday, a series of guidelines for dental practices was issued to keep workers and patients safe.
"We're trying to keep our teams safe and more importantly, we're trying to keep our patients safe. And so, we'll look a little bit different when you come back into our offices. It's a good thing you know who we are," said Dr. Perkins.
Both she and other dentists, like Dr. Angela Fennell with Comprehensive Dentistry, said they spent part of this week making sure their staffs were trained to know how to safely interact with patients now.
They both said that having gone through the changes in protective equipment and patient interactions that happened following the rise of HIV/AIDS in the 80s helped prepare them to handle some of these changes.
But because some of the PPE that they need is in such high demand, it has required them to get creative at times.
"We were not able to get surgical gowns through the normal route. So, wanting to open and see our patients and keep my team really safe, I've decided to make my own surgical gowns. So, still at the sewing machine and 30 of those will be coming off the line in time for Monday," said Dr. Perkins.
Both dentists decided to wait until Monday to reopen to regular clients. Another adjustment they will be making is staggering patient appointments. The new guidelines don't allow for as many patients to be seen as much, which will drive down revenue for a while.
"I think we're so thankful to go back to work that something's better than nothing. And I think it's time to go back to work safely as long as every office that opens is prepared," said Dr. Perkins.
One notable change for patients too is that they won't be allowed to wait in the waiting room. They will have to stay outside either in their cars or in seating provided by an office until they are called in.
To read the full list of guidelines, click here.