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Montreal dental clinics say they need help, not ready to reopen

Coronavirus: Dentists scrambling to get ready to reopen, with strict conditions
WATCH: Dental practices are getting ready to resume regular operations, such as cleanings, xrays and non-urgent dental work, but with Covid19 still running rampant, extra precautions need to be taken. Global’s Felicia Parrillo explains.

These days, it takes much longer for Dr. Majed Bakdach and assistant, Zoe St-Georges, to get ready for a patient.

They must wear a mask, face shield and a protective gown — all of which need to be changed or disinfected between each client.

“Having to change and wear different kinds of masks, different kinds of protection makes our jobs more difficult,” said Bakdach.

READ MORE: Montreal-area retail stores reopen as coronavirus lockdown eases

South West One Dental Clinic, in Pointe-Claire, has been open for emergency services during the coronavirus pandemic, but as of June 1, it will reopen for non-essential dental treatments.

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All dental clinics are expected to follow a long list of guidelines, provided by the provincial government, which is proving to be a difficult task.

“I think they should have given us more time to buy everything we need, instead of asking us to reopen a week and a half after they give us the guidelines,” said Rana Rifai, the clinic’s manager.

READ MORE: ‘No social distancing in dentistry’: How care has changed during coronavirus

The guidelines require clinics to order a massive amount of personal protective equipment for each of their staff members.

Since the South West One clinic is open concept, it will have to encase each operating room with plastic, and new filtration systems will need to be installed in every room.

“What we need from the government is to provide us with the accessibility to these products so we can have the right products and at a reasonable price,” said Bakdach.

READ MORE: Quebec to allow limited outdoor gatherings starting Friday as province eases coronavirus rules

The clinic estimates it will cost them around $50,000 in order for them be able to safely re-open next week. But they’ll only re-open partially since they won’t have all the measures implemented by then.

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While the owners of South West One don’t plan to increase prices for now, that may not be the case at other clinics.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Dental hygienists concerned dentists are still providing non-essential service

Dr. Michael Wiseman, an associate professor with the McGill Faculty of Dentistry, says clinics need help.

“We’re private entities,” said Wiseman, who is also a dentist in Cote-Saint-Luc.

“We’re private little mini hospitals, and we’re getting no help at all from the government. We’re not even having any access to the N95 masks, which are rightfully being held for hospital use, but we also need it as well.”