Since the lockdown commenced on 26 March an estimated 400,000 New Zealanders have had cancelled dental appointments with as yet no deferment date.
Speaking to the Committee NZDA President Dr Katie Ayers said she is now aware of at least one person currently in intensive care for management of life-threatening dental infections.
Dr Ayers also outlined the dire state of what the profession faces currently, including a lack of government planning, support and virtually no available PPE.
“The dental profession has been telling Government and the public for weeks about continued access issues around the mandatory requirements and quantities of PPE.
“However, the extreme uncertainty for us is a lack of ready guidelines setting out what dental treatment should look like at each Alert level. This means that planning is unable to begin. There is currently no indication when dental practices will be able to reopen and a workforce of over 10,000 is essentially sitting without work.
“Dentists are essential primary health care workers as they are frontline and there is a looming public health crisis, with one out of eight practices already having laid off staff and up to 45 percent currently being forced to consider doing the same.”