HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive at Hudsonville Dental starting Friday is you won’t be able to just stroll into the office.

You’ll need to call from the car and tell them you’re here.

“We make sure that you answer all of our COVID-questionnaire questions. And once that’s all done, all the forms are filled out, then we call you in,” said Dr. Bradley Dykstra, a dentist at Hudsonville Dental.

After you pass a check of your temperature for signs of a fever, you’re led back to the examination area.

“It’s going to look a little different. But not a lot different,” Dykstra said.

Starting Friday, you’ll be able to get those teeth shined and that cavity filled once again.

Dental offices will be allowed to reopen after being shut down by the order of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in March.

Hudsonville and other dental offices have been preparing to reopen for two months.

Equipment is sterilized and wrapped in germ-proof plastic, which has been a procedure dentist has followed for years.

The thing you’ll notice the most is what the person hovering over the top of you and poking around inside your mouth is wearing.

Along with medical-grade masks and eye protection, dentists and dental hygienists will wear face guards.

Dr. Bradley Dykstra, a dentist at Hudsonville Dental on May 27, 2020.
Dr. Bradley Dykstra, a dentist at Hudsonville Dental on May 27, 2020.Dr. Bradley Dykstra, a dentist at Hudsonville Dental on May 27, 2020.

“One of the other differences you’ll see when you come in are these. These are new, fluid-resistant lab coats. So, the fluids will bounce right off,” Dykstra said while wearing one of the new coats.

Droplets in those fluids have been identified as the most effective way the coronavirus is transferred from human to human.

So, Hudsonville Dental has switched to a new device that takes the saliva build-up from a mouth.

The reusable lab coats also reduce another issue. Some dentists say they’re running into a lack of personal protection equipment, like disposable lab coats.

“Our workflow is changing to keep things safer, and also to minimize the unnecessary use of PPE,” Dykstra said.

“PPE remains a challenge nationally for dental and medical offices, however, dental offices will be prepared for safe reopening. We have been following preservation guidelines from the CDC to maximize use of PPE during this time,” said Michigan Dental Association President Dr. Stephen Meraw in a statement to News 8.

Hudsonville and other dental offices have only been able to treat emergencies under the governor’s executive order.

Dykstra says some of those emergencies didn’t have to get that way, had dentists been allowed to remain open.

“I’ve treated several people who we could have, with a large restoration or a crown, saving the tooth. And now they come in and either needed a root canal or needed to be extracted,” Dykstra said.

And while Hudsonville Dental and others will open Friday, others say they will take more time to prepare.

While we can’t say exactly, we expect many dental offices to reopen for non-emergency services, Meraw said.

With added precautions in place, Dykstra has a message for those still worried about a trip to the dentist as the pandemic continues.

“There’s really no safer place right now than a dental office because of all the precautions that we take,” Dykstra said.