When the Northern Ireland government’s Health and Social Care Board issued a call for 100 dentists to volunteer in emergency dental clinics during the nation’s COVID-19 lockdown, more than 400 dentists offered to help.
These clinics will be set up across the five health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland. They only will see patients with urgent dental needs who have been referred by their local dentist. Clinical staff will remain in their practices to answer telephone calls from patients.
These workers will carry out triage over the phone, using the three A’s: advice, analgesia, or antibiotics. Patients who require emergency treatment will be seen by their own dentist or be referred to these clinics depending on the treatment required.
Emergency treatment includes abscesses, swelling, severe toothache, trauma, and bleeding following an extraction. These clinics also will treat any identified COVID-19 patients and any other patients requiring emergency treatment. All staff providing care will receive full personal protection equipment. The first clinic has opened in Belfast.
“This is a very stressful time for everyone, dental teams included, so we are very proud of colleagues who are in the forefront of finding a solution for people in dental pain,” said Richard Graham, chair of the British Dental Association (BDA) Northern Ireland General Dental Practice Committee.
“Routine checkups are off the menu for now, and we want to ensure that every patient has access to advice, pain relief, and emergency care when they need it,” Graham said.
The BDA commends the volunteers for providing care. It also notes that community dentists, who treat the most vulnerable in society, have been instrumental in setting up the clinics, reflecting the profession’s commitment to joining the fight against COVID-19.
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