On March 16, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC (CDSBC) strongly recommended that all elective and non-essential dental services be suspended to contain community spread of the virus.
On March 23, the Provincial Health Officer also confirmed that she issued a letter to all regulated health professionals outlining her expectations for their response in this acute phase of the pandemic. Together, these requirements mean that dentists are now only treating urgent dental emergencies in their offices.
To provide emergency dental treatment safely, dentists and their staff must also have the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which includes specially fitted masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves.
Due to the widespread shortage of PPE, patients with dental pain, swelling, infection or trauma must first be assessed by their local General Practice dentist over the phone. To reduce the risk of transmission, only the most urgent dental cases will be referred to an appropriately equipped dental clinic for treatment.
The BCDA and our members recognize that this is definitely not an optimal situation for patients, and look forward to resuming regular care protocols as soon as possible.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has provided her expectations for all health professionals to deliver the best and safest care during this evolving crisis. As with all health professionals, dental professionals are:
When direct physical contact is required, dental professionals must use infection control practices, including appropriate personal protective equipment.
“CDSBC recognizes that patients should receive necessary dental care in order for their own health and safety and also to lessen the burden on the hospital system. We have to assist dental professionals in their decision-making, and there is no expectation to provide treatment to patients unless it is safe to do so.
As the regulator for dentistry, our primary concern is that the public is being protected. Our role is to conduct a fair and transparent investigation of each complaint we receive, and to take timely and appropriate action in the event that patients and the public have been put at risk. Complaints are resolved under the direction of our Inquiry and Discipline Committees, both of which include members of the general public. In all cases complainants are informed of the outcome of our investigations.”
Dr. Chris Hacker
Symptoms of the virus are similar to other illnesses, including the flu and common cold (cough, sneezing, fever, sore throat and difficulty breathing).
Anyone in B.C. who is concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.