Dentists throughout Mississippi have been told by the state to postpone non-emergency procedures because of the statewide COVID-19 outbreak.

Only emergency procedures should be performed, according to a press release from the state Department of Health.

“Most of the bread-and-butter work will come to a halt,” Dr. Todd Fincher of Greenwood said. “I think it’s a good idea. It won’t help income-wise, but it’ll help for the safety of the population.”

Those with dental emergencies include anyone who is in pain or dealing with an abscess or broken tooth.

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The release cited a shortage of protective medical equipment and the ongoing spread of the virus as reasons for the postponement.

Fincher, who practices dentistry in Greenwood and Columbus, said that until the guidelines were issued by the state, dentists  were left to their own judgment about whom to treat. The Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners has directed dentists to withhold from seeing non-emergency patients until April 1, Fincher said.

The health department also directed physicians, hospitals and medical centers to defer elective surgical and diagnostic procedures until the spread of COVID-19 has diminished and the supply of medical protective equipment has been restored.

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