Nfld. & Labrador

Regular dental services suspended immediately in N.L.

All dental appointments in Newfoundland and Labrador are cancelled, unless it is an emergency.

Emergency treatments will continue, says note from registrar

A staff member at Paradise Dental Care checks a patient in December 2016. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

All dental appointments in Newfoundland and Labrador are cancelled effective immediately, unless it is an emergency.

Paul O'Brien, the provincial dental board's registrar, sent a letter to dental clinics Monday afternoon telling them it was time to shut the doors to regular patients.

"Starting March 17, 2020, for a period of 14 days, dental clinics should manage emergency care due to an infection, acute pain, bleeding or trauma by asking the patient to contact their dentist by telephone to have emergencies evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine the best way to safely provide care," the letter reads. 

"We will continue to assess the evolving situation."

O'Brien said Eastern Health is working on a plan to allow hospitalization for people experiencing serious emergencies. 

The letter asked dental clinics to "pay strict attention to sterilization and disinfection procedures."

Many clinics are hiring outside professionals to help sanitize all areas on top of regular in-house cleaning, according to Amanda Squires, the Newfoundland and Labrador Dental Association's communications manager.

"Anything that was in high-traffic areas such as the waiting room, they're simply disposing of. So magazines, and books and things like that," Squires said Tuesday.

Amanda Squires, Newfoundland and Labrador Dental Association communications manager, says clinics aren't worried about their stock of protective equipment. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

Squires said the association is not concerned about its supply of masks, gloves and other protective equipment. She said the supplier is bringing more in.

"The NLDA and the dentists across Newfoundland and Labrador always have public health in mind and interest, so of course we will continue to do what's best for everybody across the province," Squires said. 

The province has three presumptive cases of COVID-19. A woman tested positive locally after arriving in Newfoundland and Labrador from a Caribbean cruise. Her test was sent to Winnipeg to confirm the diagnosis. The two subsequent cases are from a man and another woman who are known to the first woman.

All schools are closing this week, and hospitals have cut back services for anyone not experiencing an emergency.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Heather Gillis