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Cavities put on notice as B.C. green lights dental offices

College of New Caledonia's Dental Studies program in Prince George. (via Kyle Balzer)

Dental offices will be allowed to re-open to non-emergency care in the coming weeks with enhanced protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19, announced Premier John Horgan Wednesday (May 6) as part of his “restart plan” for enhanced social and economic activity.

The College of Dental Surgeons of B.C., which regulates dentists, said it welcomed the news and is preparing to put in place guidance for dental offices.

“We have always had requirements in place to prevent the transmission of infectious disease in dental offices,” said Dr. Chris Hacker, the Registrar/CEO for CDSBC via email.

“We will continue to provide guidance to our registrants that is supported by evidence as it is available.”

Based on the restart plan, dental offices will be implementing measures based on broader workplace guidelines, such as augmented hygiene and physical distancing between patients.

Waiting rooms will be restricted to manage patient flow and the use of masks could be required for patients entering an office.

But little has been stated about how non-urgent healthcare services such as dental, physiotherapy, chiropractic and diagnostic and imaging services will be conducted specifically, and so some dental offices may operate with slight differences than others.

As a health regulator, the CDSBC’s role is to set out expectations and guidance, in keeping with Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry’s direction, that ensures the safety of both patients and the dentists, dental therapists and certified dental assistants who are providing necessary care during COVID-19, stated the college by email.

“CDSBC will continue to take our lead from the Provincial Health Officer and other public health experts as we start planning for the expansion of dental services,” the college added.

“We are looking forward to patients having increased access to in-person elective dental care in a safe environment,” said Dr. Hacker.