More Manitoba dentists preparing for partial reopening

By | May 13, 2020

WINNIPEG — More Manitoba dentists are preparing to partially reopen their offices after the province eased public health restrictions earlier this month.

Dr. Ken Hamin at Reflections Dental Health Centre said his office, which has been closed to contain the spread of COVID-19, will start offering limited services Tuesday.

“The Manitoba Dental Association has been great in giving some guidelines with respect to safe and protective care for patients,” said Hamin.

The Manitoba Dental Association is still limiting the services dentists can provide meaning routine dental care may have to wait a little longer.

“We understand Manitobans have been eager to get back to the dentist,” said Manitoba Dental Association president Dr. Marc Mollot.

The province gave the go-ahead to dentists and dental hygienists to resume services on May 4, with further direction to come from their regulatory bodies.

In the case of dentists, the dental association is still recommending all non-urgent and elective dental services provided in-person remain suspended. Right now only emergency and urgent dental care is recommended.

“It’s going to be a safe and measured reopening of dentistry, and for that reason, dentists didn’t all just immediately jump in and open their offices,” said Mollot.

Mollot said dentists had to bring back staff and prepare to reopen under public health guidelines.

He said aerosol-generating procedures – which involve the use of high-speed handpieces or ultrasonic scalers that can induce the production of droplets from a patient – remain one of the biggest challenges. 

“The reality is, is that when you go to the dentist right now, the team that you’re going to meet is going to look a little different,” said Mollot. “They’re going to be wearing an enhanced level of PPE.”

Dentists are still being urged to avoid those procedures whenever possible but when they are required they’ll have to wear a fitted N95 mask or one that’s equivalent in addition to a face shield, gloves, booties, and a gown.

Mollot said it’s still not clear when dentists will be able to expand the scope of their work but he noted the association is staying in close contact with public health officials.

For now, patients who do end up at the dentist can expect a new drill during their visit.

At his office, Hamin said it means people will be screened for symptoms, required to use hand sanitizer, wear a mask – either their own or one that’s provided – and practice physical distancing.

 

“It’s been eye-opening,” said Hamin, referring to the challenges of preparing to run a dental office during COVID-19. “An experience that none of us have ever had to go through before.” 

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