VICTORIA -- Dentists across the province have been urged to stop all elective and non-elective dental services indefinitely, according to the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and College of Dental Surgeons of BC (CDSBC).

The CDSBC says that it will follow a direction given by the Office of the Provincial Health Officer Monday calling for the immediate suspension of all dental services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Exceptions can be made for dentists who have patients that may require immediate treatment, including concerns of infection, acute pain or trauma.

The CDSBC says that it is up to the individual oral health care provider to decide the best location and manner to assist with urgent treatment.

The college is asking that any dentists called to assist with an immediate health concern first conduct a pre-treatment risk assessment, ideally over the phone, before any service is undertaken.

If a pre-treatment risk assessment cannot be conducted remotely, the CDSBC asks that offices have protocols in place for people who may arrive in person due to urgent oral health concerns.

In some cases, dentists may refer patients to alternate facilities.

“In the words of our Prime Minister today, exceptional circumstances are calling for exceptional measures, and it is time to take every precaution to keep people safe,” said the CDSBC in an announcement Monday.

Meanwhile, all dentists who were present at a recent dental conference in Vancouver, which took place on March 6, are being asked to self-isolate until March 22.

“This guidance is in place until further notice and we will be in regular contact with you, knowing that this situation is rapidly changing,” said the CDSBC.