Only emergency cases are getting dental work in B.C. right now

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If you’re suffering from a toothache or a dental issue, you might just have to wait it out.

Non-elective and non-essential dental services were suspended on March 16, on the advice of the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C.

That means unless your problem is essentially life threatening, dentists can't see you until some pandemic precautions are lifted.

Dentists treating patients are also required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, including specially fitted mask, gloves, face shields and gowns.

If you’re experiencing dental pain, swelling, infection or trauma, you’re going to have to assessed by your dentist in a telephone interview first.

If it’s decided you need immediate treatment, (and only the most urgent cases will be referred) arrangements will be made for you to attend a dental emergency clinic appropriately equipped to treat you in a COVID-19 environment.

 "It's frustrating, but understandable," Oliver dentist Dr. Jordan Noftle says. "You feel helpless in some ways, but we are still trying our best to help our patients as necessary."

Kelowna is the nearest emergency dental centre but many dentists are volunteering their time assessing patients by phone and establishing need

Noftle says the centres have proper protective equipment to handle patients, something most dentists are having difficulty acquiring. The centres are also equipped with negative pressure rooms.

"We triage our own patients, and those who don’t have a regular dentist. We try to keep patients away from the centres as much as possible through use of pharmacological options and home remedies where possible," Noftle says.

He's currently handling around one to three emergencies daily.

"They're not all my patients, some are people in need. They haven’t had regular dental work and now something is wrong," he says.

He's only had one patient referred to the centre after antibiotics were no longer an option.

"It's an interesting time. As medical professionals we are always trying to get our patients out of pain as quickly as possible. I don’t like the feeling of leaving someone without definitive treatment," he says. "I was reminded by a colleague, however, in the medical profession there are people who live in pain every day. We don’t like it, but we can use those pharmacological methods to mitigate the pain as much as we can. Unfortunately, that’s where we’re at right now."

Below is a list of emergency dental treatment clinics in Kamloops and the Okanagan, but you'll need a referral from your own dentist:

Kamloops

Dr. Felian Cabael, 250-372-1455

Dr. Peter Stefanuto, 250-371-7076

Dr. Jaspal Singh Sarao, 250-376-5354

Vernon

Dr. Deborah Battrum, Dr. Richard Leung, 250-545-0292

Kelowna

Dr. Scott Martyna, 778-484-9522

Dr. Deborah Battrum, Dr. Richard Leung, 250-868-0268

Dr. Stefanie Nio, 604-783-8737


Penticton

Dr. Rene Buttar, 250-809-1427

Dr. Geetika Saini, 250-493-8131

A full list of the province's emergency clinics can be found here.


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