OLDS — Dentists are gradually being allowed to offer more services under Alberta’s plans for reopening the economy.
The scope of what they have been allowed to do was expanded on May 4 and if all goes well, they’ll even be able to do non-urgent dental care by May 14, although as of last Friday it’s not yet clear what exactly that will involve, according to Dr. Olivia Cui of West Olds Dental.
During an interview, Cui said throughout the pandemic, dentists have been allowed to do emergency care for issues such as oral or facial trauma, prolonged bleeding, infection or dental pain that can’t be managed with over-the-counter medication.
But she said as of May 4, they were able to expand those services to include urgent care, such as cracked, chipped or broken teeth, as long as they followed guidelines issued by the Alberta Dental Association and College (ADA&C).
She’s expecting the ADA&C to provide clarification on what other services they’ll be able to offer on or before May 14.
“We haven’t had any guidelines as to the specifics of exactly the scope of the treatment we would be able to offer, but from my understanding, at that date, we will be able to expand even more our services,” she said.
“I’m not sure at this point if dental cleanings and routine exams would be included, but it definitely would be expanded.”
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West Olds Dental is part of a team of six dental offices which includes facilities in Didsbury and Carstairs as well as Airdrie.
Cui says it’s tough not knowing exactly what non-urgent services dentists will be able to provide.
However the biggest issue — at least initially — was getting ahold of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks.
“I would say the first couple of weeks there was just no way to get any N95 masks,” she said.
“That really limited us with regards to procedures too that we can do because anything that’s generating aerosols or whatever – drilling a tooth or anything like that is generating aerosols – and we’re required to have N95 masks for that. And that was the hardest thing to get our hands on.
“But just a couple of weeks ago, the stock has kind of re-filled gradually, so we were able to get a pretty good amount of them, so we are prepared to be able to start offering our services to more patients.”
Cui figures all their offices now have enough N95 masks and other PPE to last them for about a month.
“We should be OK, hopefully. As long as they don’t change things again we should be good,” she said, adding they want to be careful not to stockpile that equipment because they know others need it too.