Reopening Your Dental Office During the Pandemic

By Jeanine Lehman, Attorney at Law

An eternity seems to have passed since the City of Austin cancelled the SXSW festival due to COVID-19 in early March. Austin was spared the influx of over 400,000 visitors from around the world and a possible fate akin to New Orleans. That said, dental practices have suffered greatly due to their closure pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Orders GA-09 and GA-15, which limited health care providers to certain emergency services – to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers fighting COVID-19. 

Reopening. On April 27, 2020, Governor Abbott announced that effective May 1, 2020, dentists may reopen their practices per Executive Order GA-19, which allows dentists to no longer be limited to emergency services. Dentists must comply with Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) emergency rule 108.7(16) which requires compliance with the rule’s and CDC guidelines. These include having COVID-19 procedures, screening of dental health care personnel (DHCP), as well as patient pre-appointment screening, in-office screening, and post appointment instruction, use of standard precautions, transmission-based precautions (including N-95 respirator masks, KN-95 masks, or their substantial equivalent for procedures likely to involve aerosols), and emphasis on proper use of personal protective equipment and reduction of aerosol production. An example is that for hygiene services, only hand instruments and low-speed polishing tools may be used. The guidelines also have office considerations and many more requirements. The rule is available on the TSBDE website. The Governor also provided a manual with minimum health protocol checklists for employers, businesses and individuals, which should be used, at:   Patients and others should be directed to wear face coverings while not in the dental chair. Dental practices should follow applicable guidelines, including TSBDE, CDC, OSHA, public health authorities, and other governmental entities, and make reference to ADA and TDA resources. The Texas Dental Association’s “Guidelines for Reopening Dental Offices Safely During the COVID-19 Pandemic” is helpful and includes resource references. 

Employees. When Order GA-09 was issued in March, many practices fired or furloughed some or all of their employees, who then filed for unemployment. To bring back fired employees, they  need to be rehired and customary new hire paperwork is required. Hopefully, fired and furloughed employees will want to come back to work and realize there is a limit to unemployment benefits. That said, many employees will receive more money from unemployment benefits than from working at their past wage levels, due to added pandemic federal unemployment benefits of $600/week. To estimate an employee’s unemployment benefits, $600/week is added to the results from the Texas Workforce Commission’s benefits calculator: 

COVID-19 in the Office. A COVID-19 positive patient, visitor, or team member may be present in the dental office. Such person may be asymptomatic but spreading the virus. Therefore, the practice needs to have a plan in place for what to do if notified by a patient, team member or visitor of COVID-19 infection, including compliance with the requirements of State and local public health authorities. For eligible employees, the practice also needs to comply with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, including for paid sick leave and enhanced family medical leave requirements. A poster concerning employee rights is required.

PPP Loans. Practices receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans should carefully track and document allowable expenses that apply to loan forgiveness. To avoid or limit the reduction in loan forgiveness, they need to be aware of and minimize the reduction in the number of full time equivalent employees and employee compensation.

Costs & Adjustments. Dental practices will incur significant costs, including for enhanced PPE, office improvements, and probable reduction in patient capacity. For example, a hygienist doing hand scaling will see fewer patients in a day. The American Dental Association has issued a statement on third party payer reimbursement for costs for increased standards for PPE. Dentists should also carefully track and document their loss of revenue and increased expenses caused by the pandemic. Those data will be helpful if they choose to sell their practices.

Changing Requirements. The reopening of dental practices will be subject to changing orders, rules, laws, and opinions. Therefore, ongoing vigilance and consultation with a knowledgeable attorney concerning changes will be critical.

Jeanine Lehman is an Austin, Texas dental, health and business law attorney with a statewide practice – She can be reached at (512) 918-3435 or © Jeanine Lehman 2020. This article is not legal advice.


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President’s Message February 2020

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CADF Golf Classic

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President’s Message June 2019

Greetings fellow CADS members and colleagues.  I am excited to introduce myself as your 2019-2020 CADS President.  This year promises to be another great one for all of our current, new, and future members, and I am so proud to be a part of this wonderful group of like-minded dental professionals.  Our membership in this tripartite organization is a testament to our devotion to our profession, our patients, our staff, and our families. Read more


New Dentist Corner February 2019

One of the hardest things in our profession is finding a proportional work-life balance.  Especially being a new dentist, that may mean having to work 6 days a week or longer than “ideal” hours.  We want you to know, you’re not alone! The practice of dentistry is an ongoing journey and every patient experience is an opportunity to learn and grow.  Over time, you will learn to fine tune your skill set and hone in on what you truly love to do. The hard work will start to pay off and you will find yourself having more free time for hobbies and other interests, like reading!  A question that gets asked in many social channels are recommendations for books to read that emphasizes leadership, business and professional development. Here are our 2019 top picks for you: “Purple Cow: Transform your Business by Being Remarkable”, “Start with Why”, “The Energy Bus”, and “The Checklist Manifesto”.  Like Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid said “First learn to stand, then learn to fly. Nature rule Daniel son, not mine.”  Reading books gives you wings so you can begin to soar into our profession! 



Emily Conley DDS & Rebecca Scott DDS
CADS New Dentist Committee Chairs



New Dentist Corner November 2018

Thank you to everyone that came out to our Rock Rose Pub Crawl last month!  We loved seeing everyone in costumes and enjoyed mixing and mingling. Thank you to our wonderful sponsors DJ Bhola CPA and Wealth Strategies!  One of the highlights of our pub crawl was the kick off of our CADS Mentorship Program.  This is a unique and invaluable opportunity we offer our members and we are excited that the interest in the program was so high.  Members will automatically be paired with a mentor if you are in your first year after graduation. All others who are interested can sign up online at  

We wish you a very blessed Thanksgiving!  It’s truly a joy serving as your New Dentist Chairs!


Emily Conley, DDS & Rebecca Montalvo, DDS
CADS New Dentist Committee Chairs



New Dentist Corner October 2018

This month marks the start of CADS Study Club and we couldn’t be more excited for the course lineup. Dentistry is dynamic and in order to stay current with advances in our profession, we are fortunate to have endless opportunities for continuing education at the local, state, and national level.  We encourage new dentists to make the commitment to be a lifelong learner. Whether you own your own practice or you’re an associate, the reward you get when you take time to work ON your practice versus IN it, is ten-fold.

One common question we see floating around social media is, “what is one of the best investments you’ve made?”. Time and again it’s not the newest gadget on the market, but rather time spent on furthering ones’ education. Make this investment now and join us for the third annual CADS Study Club that provides high quality, affordable continuing education geared to the New Dentist!


Rebecca Montalvo DDS and Emily Conley DDS
New Dentist Committee Chairs


New Dentist Corner September 2018

It’s a great time to be in Austin! Summer is just a blur but a shining moment was our awesome boat party last month! This year, we kicked it up a notch and had some pretty neat lake floats and delicious sandwiches from Thundercloud Subs. It was great seeing new and old faces and we loved catching up with everyone. We couldn’t have done this without our GREAT sponsors: Burkhart Dental, DJ Bhola CPA, Great State Dental Lab and Xite Realty. Each of these sponsors have been key components in the success of our group. We encourage all members to take time to visit with them at our events because they have a wealth of knowledge that can be very helpful in any stage of your career. 

A notable piece of advice we have been given is the importance of building “your dream team”, one of whom should be a mentor. One of CADS many benefits is our Mentorship Program. There is a subsection on CADS website that lists our ready and willing mentors that have generously offered to provide support and guidance to our new dentists. The combined years of experience and expertise on our panel is impressive and anyone would be lucky to be teamed up with them.  

Lastly, SAVE THE DATE for our Fall Pub Crawl on October 27! More details to follow!

7-16 Headshot-New Dentist Corner (By Dr. Shelly Duggal and Dr. Kacie Stair)

New Dentist Corner February 2017

7-16 Headshot-New Dentist Corner (By Dr. Shelly Duggal and Dr. Kacie Stair)

The New Dentists had a great time rooting for the Longhorns at the UT basketball game last month!  Thank you to our sponsors, Patterson Dental, Physician’s Resource Services, and Practice Real Estate Group and to Dr. Barry Rouch for arranging this special event for us!

Have you found your mentor yet?  Would you love a chance to chat with experienced dentists who have been there and done that?  The CADS Mentorship Program is here to help!  First, visit the website to find out more about our available mentors on the Mentorship Program page in the Members Only section.

If you are interested in being a mentor yourself, simply update your user profile on the CADS website (make sure to upload a picture!) and email Shelly at to let us know that you would like to be added as a mentor.

– Shelly Duggal, DMD & Kacie Stair-Culotta, DMD
CADS New Dentist Committee Chairs, 2016-2017

7-16 Headshot-New Dentist Corner (By Dr. Shelly Duggal and Dr. Kacie Stair)

New Dentist’s Corner January 2017

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