Limited dental appointment slots amid COVID-19 – MOH

KUALA LUMPUR – Appointment slots for dental treatment that can be given at government health facilities within a working day is very limited due to the longer treatment process compared to the situation before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Health Ministry (MOH) principal director (Oral Health) Dr Noormi Othman said in the increasingly serious COVID-19 situation, the ministry has adopted several new norms in the delivery of dental services in line with the guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP) set.

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This includes a stricter screening process at registration counters, limiting patients attendance to clinics by encouraging them to make appointments online or over the telephone and giving appointments in stages.

“In addition, the sanitisation period of the dental treatment room after a treatment is completed for each patient has been extended to ensure a safe environment, and thus to control the COVID-19 transmission to patients and dental staff,” she said in a statement today.

Dr Noormi was responding to an article published in the News Straits Times (letters column) entitled ‘Six-Months Wait Unreasonable’ and in The Star (Your Opinion column) entitled ‘A six-month wait for dental treatment?’

She explained that each patient who attends the dental clinic would have to go through a screening process. Low-risk patients are allowed to under all types of dental treatment while high-risk patients are limited to emergency treatment only.

Most dental treatments such as scaling and fillings that involve the production of sprays and small water droplets (aerosols) mixed with the patient’s saliva which has the potential of spreading COVID-19, will be carried out in a special dental treatment room equipped with equipment to control and reduce the production of these aerosols.

“All dentists must also always wear a complete personal protective equipment (PPE) and adhere to the cross-infection control practices while performing the treatment.

“This work process includes preparation of the treatment room, application and removal of dental staff PPE and disinfection of the dental treatment room,” she said.

However, Dr Noormi stressed that MOH is very concerned about the matter and is organising strategies to ensure that patients who come to the government health facilities are examined on the same day, and reduce the waiting time for dental treatment through appointments.

“MOH appeals to the public to be patient and understand the constraints of dental health services during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

“The public is advised to abide by the SOP set by the MKN and MOH to make an appointment for a dental examination online or by telephone at a dental clinic near their respective residences,” she said.