Dentists in England will be able to reopen for business and start treating patients by this time next week, under plans announced by NHS England.
Dental practices will have to put in place special safety measures – but face-to-face care is set to resume by June 8.
All routine dental care in England has been suspended since 25 March due to coronavirus.
The British Dental Association (BDA) welcomed the announcement.
But a BDA spokesman said says key questions remain adding that while dentists would be relieved by the announcement, the ability of practices to reopen would depend on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Mick Armstrong Chairman BDA said: “It is right to allow practices to decide themselves when they are ready to open. Dentists will be keen to start providing care as soon as is safely possible, but we will need everyone to be patient as practices get up and running.”
“Dentists can open their doors but won’t be able to provide a full range of care without the necessary kit. Longer term, practices can only stay afloat with ongoing support, while social distancing continues and the costs of providing care are sky high.”
At present, any patient with an emergency dental problem is supposed to be referred to an Urgent Dental Care (UDC) hub for treatment.
More than 550 of the centres have been created to provide emergency treatment while meeting social distancing requirements.
However, the BDA has said that the UDCs have faced a number of problems, including PPE shortages, which has left many patients going untreated.