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Dentists get new technology to stay safe during COVID-19 pandemic

Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 6:32 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - COVID-19 has been affecting many different health care fields.

Dental Director with Albany-Area Primary Health Care Dr. LaBendra Shootes-Miller said it’s been extremely alarming for those in the dentistry field.

Shootes-Miller said during the height of the pandemic, they were only able to allow certain procedures.

“At that time, we could only really do pain management cause we were frightened of producing an enormous amount of aerosol and we didn’t have everything we felt that needed to be in place,” said Shootes-Miller.

She said COVID-19 is an aerosol-born pathogen, meaning certain procedures would produce more aerosol in the room.

Shootes-Miller said they screened patients and took their temperatures before coming into the building.

However, she believed they needed more to keep the area and surfaces clean.

Extra Oral Suction machine
Extra Oral Suction machine(WALB)

“We ordered this device which is called the ‘extraoral suction’ and it’s an air purifier. This device suctions in any aerosols once it’s coming out and when it comes in, there’s an ultraviolet light that will kill bacteria and COVID virus, along with other viruses and it’s not only during the procedure but after the patient leaves, we can leave it on so we can purify out the system,” said Shootes-Miller.

She said one of the biggest challenges they faced was being unable to help certain patients.

“We would see a patient that really was in need and they needed, for example, to have a tooth taken out and it was really broken down where I know it would require surgery and we will say, ‘we really cannot do it at this time it would endanger us,’” said Shootes-Miller.

She said another challenge during the worst of the pandemic was wearing more protective gear.

Dental Director with Albany Area Primary Health Care Dr. LaBendra Shootes
Dental Director with Albany Area Primary Health Care Dr. LaBendra Shootes(WALB)

“We could hardly breathe. We were double masking up because we were like, ‘we’re on the front line.’ A physician can walk in, talk to the patient and just walk out and after writing a prescription, but we have a mini or were a mini operating room,” said Shootes-Miller.

She said although there was a lot of bad to come out of the pandemic, she saw some good.

“A time to bond with family. It was a time for a lot of us as professional women, even professional men, we didn’t really spend much time around the home that we could spend time to build up our sanctuary,” said Shootes-Miller.

She said now that there is a vaccine, they’re operating in a much more relaxed manner.

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