Is It Over Yet?

By Dr. Aaron Stevens, DMD

I don’t know how you feel, but since COVID started, dentistry has become harder. Not just a little, but a lot. Wearing the airtight and fit-tested N95s (I really miss O2), a face shield, and sprinting to switch PPE between all aerosol-producing procedures can bring about a full lather sweat and some hypoxia. Just trying to keep loupes from fogging can be a full-time job. Our schedules are slammed as regular care intervals just haven’t been a thing during COVID. It’s physically harder and takes a toll on the body and mind. The result is that good people are choosing to leave the profession. In my office, it is costing me the best— my all-star hygienist.

My patients really come to see my hygienist. I’m the “leftovers” people take to see her. She’s amazing with them and takes great care of them. She hits the blocks if I miss and does fillings that (If we are really being honest) are frequently nicer than mine. She works incredibly hard and is the backbone of my team. We’ve worked as a team for 12 years, until now. It has just become too physically demanding. She’s done, and I don’t blame her. It is totally understandable, as was my panic when she told me she was leaving. I started frantically checking the current COVID requirements. Since most of the source data appears to be written by a lawyer, I had a really smart guy named Bob do it. We all need a smart guy named Bob. He started me on the trail of the following:

CDC COVID Data Tracker: County View

Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 | CDC

Infection Control: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) | CDC

COVID-19 - Control and Prevention - Dentistry Workers and Employers | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (

Dental COVID-19 Resource List ( 

The takeaway message is that the requirements are still the same. The case numbers per county are high, and that keeps us stuck. The Dental Quality Assurance Commission’s guidance from 2020 is still in force. “We urge all dentists to follow the above national and state recommendations during this pandemic. The Dental Quality Assurance Commission will take into consideration these national and state recommendations when evaluating disciplinary reports of dentists practicing below the standard of care.”

So, long story short, we still have the same requirements for personal protective equivalent and office COVID protocols. Dentistry will probably stay tough for a while, and I’m going to lose my hygienist. It is a brutal hit. The only one mourning the loss more than the patients will be me!