More than 400 high street dentists in Northern Ireland have volunteered to run emergency dental clinics during lockdown - over four times the number requested.
The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) had sought 100 dentist volunteers, but over 400 offered to help, the British Dental Association Northern Ireland said.
The BDA said it understands that five emergency dental clinics will be opened across Northern Ireland, with the first due to be opened in Belfast yesterday.
Dental leaders said the emergency system is needed because all dental practices have had to close their doors to patients, while all routine dentistry has been suspended.
The BDA has advised patients in pain to phone their dental practice who will assess or triage them, and will do their best to provide help, as far as possible, using one of the "three As" - advice, analgesia or antibiotics.
The BDA said it hopes that these measures will be enough for most routine cases.
If urgent treatment is absolutely necessary, however, patients will be advised to attend the closest emergency clinic when these are established. Treatments at these centres will be largely limited to extractions or draining abscesses.
Richard Graham, chair of the BDA's NI General Dental Practice Committee, said: "This is a very stressful time for everyone, dental teams included, so we are very proud of colleagues who are in the forefront of finding a solution for people in dental pain.
"Routine check-ups are off the menu for now, and we want to ensure every patient has access to advice, pain relief and emergency care when they need it."