A group of over 500 dentists have written an open letter to the Chief Dental Officer calling for the cancellation of all elective dental procedures.

In the letter, seen by RTÉ News, they say vulnerable and elderly patients could lose their lives by contracting Covid-19 in a dental setting and that dentists are also exposed.

The Chief Dental Officer, Dr Dympna Kavanagh, has advised that if patients do not have symptoms of coronavirus, they should be treated. 

Dr Kavanagh has told dentists that "there is no current scientific evidence to justify denial of dental care to members of the public who have neither a fever nor respiratory symptoms".

The group of dentists have called the advice "extremely dangerous" and "troubling" and say they have written the letter as a matter of urgency".

The letter says "the statement made by the Chief Dental Office ... is reckless beyond belief.  It endangers all patients, dental workers and our wider society, as dentistry could potentially end up a substantial route of transmission of this virus".

The HSE has ceased all elective procedures in public clinics and hospital units and is only dealing with urgent dental problems.

Overall, 573 dentists have signed the letter including Professor Leo Stassen, President of the Irish Dental Association.

The letter says: "We need the Chief Dental Officer to step up and act decisively.  Her advice is at complete variance with that from almost every other jurisdiction."