The British Dental Association Northern Ireland has commended the hundreds of dentists who rallied around to the HSCB’s call for volunteers to run emergency dental clinics during the lock-down period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The HSCB sought 100 dentist volunteers, and over 400 dentists from the high street have offered to help.
Dental leaders explain that the emergency system is needed as all routine dentistry has been suspended. This precaution is a crucial part of the ongoing “stop the spread” programme, since no dental procedure can be done without close proximity to patients. Moreover, many dental treatments generate aerosol particles which would tend to increase the risk of spreading infection.
The BDA also understands that five emergency dental clinics will be opened across NI, with the first due to be opened in Belfast today. Community dentists, who treat the most vulnerable in society, have also been instrumental in setting up these clinics, reflecting the wider profession’s commitment to joining with their healthcare colleagues in the fight against COVID-19.
The BDA has advised patients in pain to phone their dental practice who will assess or triage them, and will do their best to provide help, as far as possible, using one of the “three As” – advice, analgesia or antibiotics.
If urgent treatment is absolutely necessary, however, patients will be referred to attend the closest emergency clinic when these are established. Treatments available at these centres will, in the interests of ensuring safety of dental staff and patients, be largely limited to extractions or draining abscesses.
Richard Graham chair of the BDA’s NI General Dental Practice Committee (NIGDPC) said:
“This is a very stressful time for everyone, dental teams included, so we are very proud of colleagues who are in the forefront of finding a solution for people in dental pain.
“Routine checkups are off the menu for now, and we want to ensure that every patient has access to advice, pain relief and emergency care when they need it."