How one dentist in NYC is making his dental office a safe place post–COVID-19

May 18, 2020
As return to work post–COVID-19 looms, concerns about safety in the dental practice swirl in our minds. In this Q and A, Dr. Scott Froum, a periodontist in New York City, offers insights into how he is making his office safe for his team and patients.
Vicki Cheeseman, Associate Editor

In light of COVID-19, many dental professionals and their patients are wondering what the future of dentistry will look like and whether dental offices will ever be safe places again. You’ve read the articles and kept up with the news, but even so, preparing to return to business as usual may still be a heavy cloud hanging over your head. Amid the jumble of thoughts, you may be uncertain about the first step to take on the journey to making your practice aseptic yet welcoming, and whether there is a protocol to follow as you reopen.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Scott Froum, DDS, the editorial director of Perio-Implant Advisory, a member of the Dental Economics advisory board, and a periodontist in the heart of New York City. In addition to practicing dentistry, Dr. Froum has a keen interest in dental research and, in his spare time, conducts scientific studies and writes about his findings.

Here, he answers a variety of questions about when, what, and how he has implemented changes in his dental practice to ensure the health and safety of his team and his patients in the United States’ epicenter of COVID-19. Perhaps you can benefit from his advice in this time of uncertainty.

First off, have you resumed normal business hours in your dental practice?

We have not resumed our office hours yet. We are still only seeing emergency patients.

Is your entire team back in the office now?

No, but hopefully by June.

What was the first step you took to ready your practice so you and your team could resume practicing dentistry?

We made sure that infection control was up-to-date and trained our staff. We also implemented elimination, substitution, engineering, and administrative controls.

Is there a protocol you followed when reopening your practice?

We have staff protocols, patient protocols, and practice protocols similar to what the American Dental Association released.

In light of COVID-19, what are the things you consider absolutely essential to change or upgrade in your practice to make it safe?

I would say a good prescreening system and adherence to good infection control standards are a must.

What process(es) do you now have in place for a standard patient visit that are different from those pre–COVID-19?

We do more prescreening, patient-distancing appointments, eliminate all appointments when patients are sick, and do symptom-checking when we are at the office. 

What have you done to make your dental team comfortable with the level of workplace safety in your practice?

We bought air-purification systems, filters, HVE, extraoral vacuums, and of course use proper PPE.

What steps have you taken to make sure your patients feel like your practice is safe?

Constant email and phone communication.

How do you separate healthy patients from sick ones?

We prescreen patients before appointments as well as perform in-office patient screenings.

Do you test your patients for COVID-19, and if so, how?

Yes, we use RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) for those patients we suspect may have COVID-19 and serology testing.

Can you recommend any products or testing procedures that you use in your practice?

We are most excited to see the direction salivary testing takes. I think that is more practical for dental offices.

Have you had to raise your fees to cover increased safety measures performed in your office?

No, we have not raised our fees.

Do you still use teledentistry, and if so, for which patients?

Yes, for postoperative patients mostly.

What has been your greatest challenge in the transition process from stay-at-home orders to getting back to work?

We have not opened the office fully yet.

Do you have any advice to share with your colleagues?

Keep abreast of the latest developments and knowledge regarding COVID-19 as the material and agency recommendations are constantly changing. 

COVID-19–related articles and resources:

More about Dr. Froum:
Scott Froum, DDS, is a graduate of the State University of New York, Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, and a diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology. In addition to practicing dentistry in New York City, he serves as a clinical associate professor at SUNY Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine in the department of periodontology. You may contact Dr. Froum through his website at or (212) 751-8530.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Perio-Implant Advisory, a resource for dentists and hygienists that focuses on periodontal- and implant-related issues. Perio-Implant Advisory is part of the Dental Economics and DentistryIQ network. To read more articles, visit, or to subscribe, visit Follow the Perio-Implant Advisory Facebook page to view clinical tip videos from Dr. Scott Froum.

About the Author

Vicki Cheeseman | Associate Editor

Vicki Cheeseman is an associate editor in Endeavor Business Media’s Dental Group. She edits for Dental Economics, RDH, DentistryIQ, and Perio-Implant Advisory. She has a BS in mathematics and a minor in computer science. Early on she traded numbers for words and has been happy ever since. Vicki began her career with Dental Economics in 1987 and has been fascinated with how much media production has changed through the years, yet editorial integrity remains the goal. In her spare time, you’ll find her curled up with a book—editor by day, reader always.