Dental clinics across British Columbia will not be reopening on May 19 which is when phase 2 of the province’s restart plan kicks in.

In a statement released on Thursday, the B.C. Dental Association (BCDA) confirms that dental services including hygiene care will be reintroduced gradually when it is safe to do so.

While social activity and certain types of economic activity will increase come May 19, public health officials have begun to create guidelines for various sectors including for dentistry. These guidelines have yet to be published.

“Direction is going to be provided, and we’re working on that with the regulatory authorities, the colleges for all the regulated health professions, on incremental changes and the guidance they need to move forward over the next couple of weeks,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry on May 13.

Since March 23, dental offices have been reduced to providing emergency services and tele-care during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C.

According to BCDA spokesperson, Dr. Alastair Nicoll, when patients do start returning to dental clinics for regular services, their visits will look different.

“For example, chairs, magazines and toys will be removed from waiting rooms, and the receptionist may be sitting behind a plexiglass screen,” said Dr. Nicoll in the statement.

“Patients will also be asked different health screening questions when making their appointment and on the day of their appointment; and asked to clean their hands before and after their appointment.”

Regular services will not resume until further direction is provided by the Provincial Health Officer and the College of Dental Surgeons of BC.

For now, dental offices are only providing emergency in-person care and tele-visits for other concerns.