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Dentists deal with patient overload as COVID wanes

Dentists are packed with in-person appointments and trying to catch up on cancelations since the pandemic.

SEMINOLE, Fla. — Most health care offices have in-person appointments. Some patients are having a hard time booking such an appointment because offices are backlogged from cancelations last year.

Doctors said they're seeing more people are comfortable making the transition from virtual visits to in-person. That's why most health care professionals are seeing more people come into the office.

Some said in-person visits are the most efficient way they can do their job. Dentists are one of those professions where they rely on seeing a patient in their office. During the shutdown, some dentists had a hard time assisting their patients with care.

"It’s not really that simple because our profession is hands-on," explained Dr. Gretel Viera, the assistant program director at the University of Florida's Dental Clinic.

When the clinic in Seminole shut down in March 2020 for a couple of months, they were able to help some patients virtually. 

"We were able to handle some emergencies on the phone with pain and call the pharmacy," Viera said.

Now, dentists are seeing a spike in patients wanting to come back in person for their visits. 

"The comprehensive care stopped for a while. Now those patients are coming back to us to finish the treatment," Viera. She explained private dental practices are also seeing more patients booking appointments.

With so many cancelations and people wanting appointments, some are left waiting weeks or months for cleanings. 

If you have an emergency, Viera said patients can usually get an appointment in a day or two. If it's regular teeth cleaning, patients may have to wait. If you feel you need an appointment sooner, check in with your county's dental association and they can tell you which dentist can best help you.

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