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A Look At One Dental Practice Approved To Treat Oral Emergencies During Pandemic

Smiles Family Dental Services
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Hoping to limit contact with the nasal and oral droplets that spread COVID-19, most Oregon dentists have been ordered to temporarily close up shop. But-- dental emergencies happen.

KLCC’s Tiffany Eckert talks to one dental provider still open-- under a state mandate to treat only the most urgent dental issues.

Routine or elective dental treatment is restricted until at least June 15th. But emergencies like an impacted wisdom tooth or a fracture—can’t wait. Smiles Family Dental, with several offices up and down the I-5 corridor, was approved to keep seeing patients in dental crisis.

Credit Tiffany Eckert
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Smiles Dental on Willamette Street in Eugene, OR is open for urgent dental appointments.

Dr. Raymond Frye is founder and CEO.

“Our goal is to at least keep a thousand patients out of the ER. That’s always our goal, even in non-virus times. One of the worst places a person in dental pain can go, in my professional opinion, is the emergency room.”

Frye says finances shouldn’t be a hurdle, so Smiles Dental offers a reduced fee for emergency exams and care.

Smiles Dental recently donated over 30,000 surgical masks and gloves to local hospitals. This was surplus safety equipment normally used by the company’s dental hygienists who were furloughed as “non-essential” due to the pandemic restrictions.

Credit Smiles Family Dental Services
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Frye says some of his dental staff had personal or family health concerns that required they take furlough or lay off instead of risking potential COVID-19 exposure.

“It was very important to us that no one was told that they had to work. That everybody was given the opportunity to personally elect to continue to provide the services that we do.”

According to Smiles Dental, all staff who chose to be furloughed will return to their jobs after the coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

Credit Smiles Family Dental Services
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Dr. Raymond Frye is founder and CEO of Smiles Family Dental

As for dental emergency appointments, Dr. Frye says it’s different now. With social distancing requirements, there are no more waiting rooms. Patients arrive for an appointment and wait in their car until called into the clinical area.

The dental practice accepts any patient having an emergent or urgent dental issue.

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.
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