South-west dentists are trying to get in contact with patients after the industry has been effectively closed down due to the coronavirus - except for emergency cases.
The Australian Dental Association Warrnambool spokesman, Dr Tony Davies, said overnight Thursday the ADA was informed that all dentists were now limited to treatment of emergency patients onnly due to COVID-19 precautions.
He said that meant all other examinations and treatments would be deferred.
"Dentists and their staff are considered a high-risk group due to the aerosols generated from high speed drills and ultrasonic scalers," he said.
"We hope to return full to services in the next three to six months.
"It's a massive change and we're trying to get that information out to patients as soon as possible."
Generally school holidays are a busy time with many children getting their teeth checked.
"This is a government mandated restriction and we will only be seeing patients who are in severe pain, with facial swelling or who have suffered significant facial trauma," Dr Davies said.
"We've certainly been aware there could be restrictions for a few weeks, but now it has happened.
"We're in the same position as everyone in the community, things are just evolving so quickly."
The ADA spokesman said every day more restrictions were being put in place by the state and federal government and information was being passed on to the community as quickly as possible.
"The ADA is current in negotiations with the government about what use dentists and staff may be to the broader health system," he said.
"I would think we may be of value and dentists are keen to help in whatever capacity we can.
"Those negotiations are ongoing as we'll have to wait and see how that pans out.
"It's one of the many unresolved questions at the moment."
Dr Davies said as things stood at present dentists and all their staff would largely not be working for the next three to six months.
"It's a fast moving situation with lots of unknowns," he said.
"Everyone is doing our best to try and keep the community as safe as we possibly can."
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