People have been unable to get face-to-face dental treatment in the city for several weeks since the lockdown started because of the coronavirus pandemic.
One such patient is David Wilson, of Huntington, who contacted The Press last week to say he had been unable to see a dentist for three weeks, despite suffering from nagging toothache.
He said he had rung 111 when he first got the toothache and was told he could go to a surgery in Ripon but then got a call to be told he could not be seen.
He then rang his York dental surgery, and his dentist was helpful but could not examine him and instead gave him advice and prescribed antibiotics.
But yesterday he rang the surgery again and was referred to a new urgent dental care hub where, to his relief, the tooth was finally extracted.
An NHS spokesperson said that a number of urgent dental care hubs had been established across Yorkshire and the Humber, which could see patients following triage and referral by general dental practices or NHS 111, with further sites planned as appropriate to meet the needs of patients.
“In the York area, two dental hubs are now operating, with more planned and we are working hard to ensure all our hubs have ongoing access to PPE,” they said.
“Dental practices across Yorkshire and Humber remain open. In line with current national policy, people can expect telephone triage from their dentist in the first instance, while face-to-face dental treatment will only be offered where absolutely necessary from designated urgent dental care hubs.
“If patients cannot access a dental practice, or if they require help out of hours, they should contact NHS 111.”
York Central MP Rachael Maskell said it had taken a ‘significant’ amount of time to set up emergency dental services in York, and it was really important that comprehensive dental services were provided to all who experienced problems.
“Dentists must be provided with the right standard of PPE to undertake their work safely, but I am concerned that some elements of dental treatment may not be available in the initial stages due to a shortage in equipment,” she added.
The British Dental Association said treatments involving close contact between dentist and patient should not take place, and tools such as drills should not be used because they create a lot of ‘spray’ from patients’ mouths requiring the dentist to wear protective clothing and equipment.
“The personal protective equipment dentists wear when using high-speed tools is currently required by hospitals treating coronavirus patients,” it added.