North

Whitehorse dentists booked up after COVID-19 restrictions, communities wait for clinics

Dentists are working non-stop to treat a backlog of patients after COVID-19 restrictions lifted last month, says the Yukon Dental Association. But people outside Whitehorse are still waiting for the territory's sole travelling dentist to visit their communities.

Yukon dentists resumed non-urgent care on July 1

Dentists in Yukon could only do emergency or urgent procedures between March 27 and June 30. (Shutterstock / chanchai plongern)

Dentists are working non-stop to treat a backlog of patients after COVID-19 restrictions lifted last month, says the Yukon Dental Association.

But people outside Whitehorse still have to wait for the territory's sole travelling dentist to visit their communities.

"We could work 24/7 and not get caught up," said Dr. Colin Nash, who practices at Whitehorse Dental Clinic and is president of the Yukon Dental Association.

Dentists were only permitted to do emergency and urgent procedures between March 27 and June 30.  Now, Nash says he's booked up with patients until October.

But people living outside Whitehorse still have to travel — or wait — for dental care.

The Department of Health and Social Services still needs to finish air exchange assessments before government clinics can reopen in the communities, said spokesperson Clarissa Wall. 

These assessments are a safety measure to determine how long the room must be vacant in between patients, Wall said. Yukon only has one travelling dentist who services communities outside Whitehorse.

Dr. Colin Nash is president of the Yukon Dental Association. (Submitted by Colin Nash)

Nash believes dentists could have resumed non-urgent dental care sooner.

"We were one of the last jurisdictions to be given return-to-work policies and protocols," he said.

However, Nash acknowledged that larger provinces have their own self-regulating dental colleges. Yukon is regulated by a government department that doesn't have the same dental experience, he said, making it more difficult to establish back-to-work guidelines.

Dentists are now operating under enhanced safety guidelines. Nash encourages everyone to call their dentist if they're having any troubles. 

"It can turn into something much bigger if it's not caught while small."

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