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Features / March 26, 2020

COVID-19 – dentists need PPE now

by Guy Hiscott

The government is being asked to provide appropriate PPE for dentists providing emergency treatment.

Dental Protection and the Irish Dental Association are calling on the government to help dentists. In particular to ensure they have access to appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), as they continue to treat emergency patients.

In a joint letter to Minister Simon Harris, they say COVID-19 is generating an huge demand for PPE. And most dentists have had to suspend all routine work.  However, across Ireland dentists are rightly continuing to provide emergency treatment. This is to patients most in need. And those doing this urgent work need to be protected.

Dentists are especially at risk of contracting COVID-19, given the nature of the treatment they provide. A recent report in The New York Times suggests dentists face a greater risk compared to nearly all other professions. This is because of the extent to which they encounter diseases and infections. And it is because the close proximity they have to patients.

Currently, dentists are putting their health at risk to treat emergency patients. Dental Protection and the Irish Dental Association say the difficulties dentists are having in obtaining PPE are “extremely worrying”. They say it is vital that the Government takes all necessary steps to protect their health and safety during this pandemic.

Protect dentists against COVID-19

Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said: ‘Dentists in Ireland are amongst the best and most dedicated in the world and their commitment to quality patient care comes as no surprise to us.

‘It is welcome news that supplies of PPE are being procured by HSE this week. Dentists must receive their share of this equipment to ensure that patients can be treated in a safe environment and that the dental team are adequately protected.

‘Dentists always put the interests of the patients first; it is now up to the Government and the HSE to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of dentists and their teams is treated as a priority. We urge the Government to work with HSE to respond with the urgency this matter deserves.’

Irish Dental Association President, Professor Leo Stassen, added: ‘Urgent conversations continue about centralising the provision of emergency dental care across the regions’. He added: ‘We are urging the Government to ensure that dentists providing this care have access to appropriate PPE.’ He concluded by saying: ‘The difficulties dentists are having in obtaining PPE is extremely worrying.

‘Dentists remain dedicated to treating their patients. We want the Government to support them with the PPE they need to work safely and effectively right now.

‘We stand ready to support the Government and its fight against this pandemic in any way we can.’