Ask the Dentist: Covid-19 has shut services but emergency hubs are being set up

With practices closed by the coronavirus, Lucy Stock, dentist at Gentle Dental Care in Belfast, outlines the current situation and plans for emergency 'hubs'

Dentists have had to stop most normal dentistry due to the close proximity of patients and practitioners
Lucy Stock

A BIG sterile high five to all the patient patients who have been so understanding about accessing their dentists at this time. We have had to stop most of the normal dentistry due to the close proximity of the work and the aerosol droplets that are produced when doing dentistry.

The dentists really appreciate everybody being so considerate and trying to deal with their dental issues at home temporarily. We realise that this can be extremely taxing, especially in the face of pain or when a visible tooth breaks off and leaves a gap.

From now on during the Covid-19 situation the normal out-of-hours dental services at the hospitals have been suspended. So the emergency dental services at Belfast City hospital, Craigavon Area Hospital and Dalriada Urgent Care are now temporarily closed.

Behind the scenes the powers that be have been working very hard to establish five new Dental Hubs that are better equipped to treat patients with the additional PPE (personal protective equipment) that is required to carry out dentistry safely. However, this is not a return to normal dentistry – these five new hubs are for severe emergencies only, they are not for general dentistry.

If you have a dental difficulty and aren’t able to manage it at home then the first port of call is to your own dentist. If you are unregistered please phone a local dentist for advice. On the phone the dentist will advise you of the appropriate action that you should take or they can suggest any suitable medications to tide you over until the practices open again.

Only in certain specific circumstances will you be referred to one of the five hubs. You can not just walk in to the hub without first being referred by a dentist and you can not telephone them directly.

Having said that, please be aware that some dental infections need to be dealt with expediently so if you have concerns about a mouth infection please phone your dentist to check how to treat it and please don’t feel that you are bothering them.

Keep safe, keep fit and stay positive.

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