PEI

P.E.I. dentists rescheduling appointments with people in their 20s

The P.E.I. Dental Association says it's asked its members to put appointments with 20-29 year-olds in the Charlottetown area on pause while the Island is under recently imposed COVID-19 restrictions. 

Islanders in age group say new dentist guideline unfairly targets them

'We just simply told our members to postpone treating them for the two-week period,' says Dr. Brian Barrett, executive director of the Dental Association of P.E.I. (Keith Burgess/CBC)

The P.E.I. Dental Association says it's asked its members to put appointments with 20-29-year-olds in the Charlottetown area on pause while the Island is under recently imposed COVID-19 restrictions.

Dr. Brian Barrett, executive director for the association, said the decision was made after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison asked all people in their 20s living in the greater Charlottetown area to get tested for COVID-19, whether they had symptoms or not.

"We just simply told our members to postpone treating them for the two-week period and to get them another appointment as soon as possible, other than for an emergency."

Since that unscheduled Sunday briefing, thousands have flooded into testing clinics.

On Thursday, Morrison said only 20-somethings that have symptoms need to get tested.

Age group unfairly targeted

Some in that age group said they understand the association's concern, with dentists facing greater risk working in such close proximity to patients' saliva, but that the new guideline unfairly targets them.

'It's strictly for their health and our health and everybody that comes through the office,' says Barrett. (Nicole Williams/CBC)

Mitchell MacLean, 29, said his upcoming appointment was cancelled altogether. He said he feels the reason this age group was asked to get tested in the first place is because they work in high-risk jobs like fast-food restaurants or grocery stories.

"I think that if [dentists] are concerned enough to kind of block out an entire age group of people then they should have maybe decided to stop offering services altogether, at least while operation circuit breaker is in effect," MacLean said.

MacKenzie Deighan, 24, had an upcoming appointment to have cavities filled rescheduled. She said the next available appointment was in February. Right now, Deighan said she is on her family's insurance plan that would cover the cost, but by the time she has her appointment, she will be 25 and no longer be eligible under that plan.

It's certainly not an infringement on your rights.— Dr. Brian Barrett

"Obviously no one wants that, especially with the dentist appointment because, you know, it's health care," Deighan said.

"Paying hundreds of dollars to get a cavity filled, which is, you know, a necessity in some way, definitely is unfortunate."

The association said it's ultimately up to clinics if they will see patients in the demographic. Some are allowing patients to still go their appointment if they have a negative COVID-19 test but Deighan said recent lineups and wait times at testing sites meant that wasn't an accessible option for her.

'Strictly for their health and our health'

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison says as long as they don't have symptoms, people in their 20s are allowed to go to their appointments.  (Prince Edward Island Government/Facebook)

Barrett said the association is "not discriminating against [20-29-year-olds] any more than we are against truck drivers, seasonal workers, all these kind of folks that have some sort of a restriction on them."

"If you can't wait for six days to get your teeth cleaned, then I feel sorry for you. But it's certainly not an infringement on your rights," he said.

"It's strictly for their health and our health and everybody that comes through the office."

In an interview with CBC Thursday, Dr. Morrison said as long as they don't have symptoms, people in their 20s are allowed to go to their appointments. 

She said while there is no directive from Chief Public Health Office, the decision to allow those people to attend appointments is up to the dental association.

More from CBC P.E.I. 

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