Dentistry in the age of quarantine, Working mom juggles three kids

The D’Alfonso family is juggling work, school and family life during the COVID-19 pandemic. L-R Robert, Caleb (5), Joseph (8), Tenley (6), Allison

By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting residents of Four Points in a multitude of ways at home and on the job as stay-at-home orders continue through at least April.

Robert and Allison D’Alfonso and their three young children — ages 8, 6 and 5 — are both learning to adapt their professional and personal lives to the strictures of quarantine.

While Allison, who sells essential oils, has always worked at home in order to be able to be home with the kids, Robert has a private dental practice where he employs a number of staff and sees patients in his office.

Now, with school on hold and a shelter-in-place order in effect, the couple has personally experienced some of the highs and lows affecting business in the wake of the COVID crisis.


For Robert, who is still practicing emergency dentistry at his office, the quarantine has been a time of greater professional uncertainty for him and his staff.

He’s had to grant temporary leave to three hygienists due to a lack of work — “Because legally, we can’t do elective dentistry,” he explained — and is down to one receptionist and one dental assistant.

“Everyone who has a brick and mortar business, this is going to be financially painful,” Robert said, recognizing just how many members of the community are affected by necessary quarantine rules. 

In addition, according to Robert, after his employees have used two weeks of accrued vacation time he is required by law to pay them two-thirds of their usual income, up to $10,000 per person. “So that’s going to be a burden for small business owners.”

Fortunately, he’s been able to continue to see patients, typically three a day, for infections and other emergency dental issues. 


Robert’s staff was surprised by a recent visit to his office by law enforcement, who wanted to ensure that the practice was not in violation of quarantine rules. 

“(The officer) was probing (my receptionist) about other tenants in the building, like, have you seen anyone else?”


One of his patients is Phil Wilson — who was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott on March 13 as the Acting Executive Commissioner for the Texas Department of Health and Human Services Commission, and who also is a former Texas Secretary of State, and head of Texas Department of Transportation. Wilson  most recently has led the Lower Colorado River Authority as CEO.

Wilson offered Robert insight into the statewide and nationwide fight to suppress the rate of infection in the general population. 

“‘The reason you can’t see your regular doctor or dentist for routine and non-emergency things has to do with the personal protective equipment. There’s a massive shortage,’” Wilson told Robert. 

“That’s what he’s trying to deal with right now, making sure the hospitals are equipped,” Robert said.


For Allison, this has meant a surge in sales of sanitizing products — “(Young Living) sold 110,000 units of sanitizer in two hours and 20 minutes,” she said, and is now sold out — as well as other products to a public eager to protect themselves during uncertain times.

“I feel that we’re more open to alternative options at this point,” explained Allison. “If you don’t know of any alternatives, you just go and buy bleach or you go buy Lysol, ‘cause you don’t know of any other options. Well, the stores are empty right now and they’re like, what am I going to do to clean my home?”

Though able to handle most sales through her website, Allison is still offering online classes to the general public — and adapting along the way. 

“There’s been times that (my son) comes down needing a mommy snuggle, so I’ll sit there and I’ll hold him on camera and rock him back to sleep while continuing to teach.”


Nevermind the demands of homeschooling three kids, which for Allison has meant keeping a strict schedule that ensures the kids stay occupied and their days structured.


Despite the challenges and the long-term impacts to their family, Robert and Allison have managed to find the positive in their change of plans, including a cancelled weekend trip to Las Vegas for the couple. They’re both sleeping more. Robert is reading more. And Allison has acquired a new appreciation for her kids’ teachers. “Let’s just say their Christmas present budget just went up!” she said with a laugh.

Whatever happens, Allison knows that, “We’re okay. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.”