You may be wondering why you cannot visit your dentist for regular care at the moment. The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a direct effect on how your dental team is able to provide care for you and your family. Patient safety has always been at the forefront of medical and dental care and it is of prime importance during the current coronavirus crisis
Dental check-ups and treatments involve close contact between the dentist and the patient. Along with social distancing measures currently in place across the nation, official guidance states that routine dental treatment has had to be temporarily postponed. Care is still available for emergency and urgent dental problems. Please be assured that during usual working hours, and whenever possible, dental practices are caring for patients with advice, analgesia (medication that acts to relieve pain) and antimicrobial agents (e.g. antibiotics used against bacteria) where appropriate.
For the moment, dentists and hygienists also have to avoid using instruments such as dental drills, tooth polishers and scalers for cleaning patient’s teeth. This equipment creates a lot of water spray which can mix with saliva from a patient’s mouth. This, in turn, creates an aerosol which could contain the Coronavirus if the patient were infected.
COVID-19 has a seven-day period before symptoms show. During this time someone wouldn’t know they had the infection and could pass it on to others. If an unsuspecting patient had a filling, for example, the spray from doing that procedure could possibly infect the dentist and the nurse. It could also put other patients at risk of COVID-19.
At the moment, to be able to provide dental care safely dentists need to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) beyond that which you would normally see at the dentist. The ‘enhanced’ Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that dentists need to use when using high-speed tools is currently required by hospitals treating patients suffering from COVID-19 and to protect residents and workers at care homes across the country. Without this PPE dentists, hygienists, dental therapists and nurses are not currently allowed to treat patients as normal.
To help stop the spread of Coronavirus, dentists have been advised that all non-urgent dental treatment must be postponed. This includes:
- Dental check-ups
- Preventive treatments such as scale and polish and fluoride varnishes
- Examinations and x-rays
- Appointments for braces
- Cosmetic dental treatment of any kind e.g. tooth whitening
- Routine denture treatment
- Treatments on teeth that are not painful e.g. fillings and extractions
It is likely that your dental practice will contact you to postpone these appointments. If you do not hear from your dental practice, we recommend that you contact them to cancel your appointment and rearrange it for a later date. Non-necessary dental treatment is not a reason for you to leave your home at the moment.
One of our key priorities at the moment is to ensure that you know that your dentist and the practice team are available for advice and support, even though normal face-to-face meetings have had to be temporarily suspended.
If you are in pain, have bleeding, or swelling, or have had an accident and need urgent dental care, please contact your dental team. They will be able to decide how best to care for you.