A dentist in Airdrie wants to let patients know what to expect when their clinics re-open for non-emergency care May 14.
“There has been a tremendous amount of confusion among patients who have been given conflicting messages from the government, college and dental clinics as to what the proposed opening dates are, and what procedures – urgent versus non-urgent – can be performed,“ said Dr. Nav Bhullar, a dentist and co-owner of Airdrie Springs Dental and West Airdrie Dental.
“We feel that it’s in everyone’s best interest to set the record straight and provide clarity on the topic.“
On April 30, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney released details of a three-phase approach to gradually reopen the province's economy. In the plan, Kenney said that dental services – along with several other health services – were free to open on May 4, as long as clinics adhere to their college's guidelines. For the last six weeks, dental offices have only been allowed to offer emergency procedures.
- INTERACTIVE MAP: See the latest COVID-19 statistics across Canada by province/territory on our interactive map.
“This came as a surprise to many Alberta dentists who had not yet heard of the reopening from the Alberta Dental Association and College (ADAC),“ Bhullar said. “Later, the ADAC responded to clarify that as of May 4, dentists of Alberta will be able to provide urgent care in addition to emergent care.
“[He further stated] that as of May 14, provided the Alberta Relaunch Strategy remains on track, dentists of Alberta will be able to provide further services. It is anticipated this will expand to include non-urgent dental services.”
Bhullar said this means patients in Airdrie who have a dental emergency – including infection, pain, a cracked tooth or a traumatic injury that requires immediate attention – shoud call their dental clinic if they are experiencing a dental emergency or require urgent dental care.
“Our Airdrie dental clinics will resume seeing orthodontic patients currently undergoing active treatment,“ he said. “As we continue to monitor the evolving situation, we will keep our patients and the community aware of further changes.“
Airdrie Springs Dental co-owner Dr. Hubert Ng said dental appointments will feel differently than they did before the pandemic. He said dentists will be geared up head to toe in personal protective equipment, and the waiting room will be off-limits to ensure patients practice social distancing. That means patients will wait in their cars or outside the clinic until their appointment.
“That’s how we’ve been triaging our emergency patients so far,“ he said. “You wait in the car, and we text or phone you before you’re allowed to come in. Then, there is going to be pre-screening for COVID-19, so temperature checks and a survey to make sure no one is feeling unsafe, to protect everyone in the office and the patients in there.“
While many dentists have been surprised at how soon their clinics are allowed to reopen, Ng said patients shouldn't worry about contracting COVID-19 during a dental appointment, given the strict health measures in place.
“People should realize a dental office is a safe place to be,“ he said. “Our sterilization protocols are probably top notch in the world, if not better than hospitals. We’re just going to take measures to make sure people are safe moving forward. It’s going to be pretty much the same, but even better, and everyone should feel safe and secure coming to the dentist.“