Dental Care in times of COVID-19
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been one of the most unsettling years that most of us have experienced in our lifetimes. The norms around how we go about our lives have changed and compromised our freedoms in ways that force us to re-evaluate our every decision and action.
This is exacerbated 10-fold in the dental industry. This is a profession that relies on an intimate proximity between patient and doctor. This proximity, we have been warned, provides the perfect breeding ground for this savage virus. We are advised to maintain a distance from all others, even our close friends and family, so how on earth can a dental examination or dental treatment even be possible?
The reality remains that despite this global pandemic, people the world over continue to struggle with general health problems that simply cannot be ignored. There is no benefit in overcoming one health crisis only to be presented with a population whose health has gradually deteriorated due to an absence of healthcare treatment. In fact, by not addressing health issues at their onset only leads to much greater complications and strain on the health services later down the line.
This is especially relevant in the case of dental health issues. It’s highly unlikely that if you begin to feel discomfort or pain in your mouth, teeth or gums that the problem will magically go away on its own. Sadly, this can lead to devastating consequences especially when we contemplate conditions as serious as oral cancer.
Therefore, dental practices have to adapt, evolve and find ways to continue in their mission to provide essential oral health services during these difficult times. It is our duty as dental professionals to ensure access to care is not compromised by external influences, while taking all precautions necessary to safeguard our patients and staff.
What rules are in place for dental care in times of COVID-19?
During the first national lockdown in March of this year, Dental practices were as good as closed for 12 weeks. As of Thursday 5th November, the UK entered its second lockdown in response to escalating cases of COVID-19. This forced all non-essential businesses to close for a minimum of 4 weeks, restricting freedom of movement in an effort to ensure the public stay at home.
During this second lockdown, all registered health and social care providers, which includes dental practices are permitted to remain open. There are strict guidelines in place to fulfill the requirements of social distancing and regulations surrounding the use of personal protective equipment. Thankfully, in an industry such as dentistry, dental health workers are accomplished in practicing the protocols for the prevention and control of infections, so this simply becomes an expansion on many standard operating procedures.
Nevertheless, things have changed. The number of people that are permitted to be in a dental clinic at any one time is limited. Pre-appointment paperwork and phone consultations form an important part of the process. Appointment scheduling is managed with great diligence to ensure minimal interaction between visitors. Cleaning procedures and cross contamination measures need to be performed more regularly and more intensely between patients, making every effort to eliminate any risk. PPE both for staff and patients is an integral part of all interactions and examinations. These disciplines allows to continue servicing our community and provide dental care in times of COVID-19.
Can I visit my dentist as normal during the current lockdown?
You can most definitely visit your dentist during lockdown, but there is a new level of normality for dental care in times of COVID-19. Things may seem different to what you are used to, but it means your visit will be safe. The new procedures mean that general registrations and administrations can be prepared in advance and through phone consultations you can raise any questions that arise either before or after your appointments, thus reducing the amount of time you need to physically be present at the clinic.
At all Banning Dental Group clinics, we provide our patients the support of a Treatment Coordinator. This is your go to person to discuss oral health concerns or treatment plans in progress. If for any reason you have become aware or concerned of changes in your dental health, we recommend that you reach out to us for a free consultation by phone, whereby we can arrange an appointment if it’s needed. At this stage, we recommend only visiting your clinic by appointment.
My tooth hurts. Can't I just take some painkillers?
Whilst you may feel it’s safer to pop a few paracetamol rather than visiting your dentist, we really can’t stress enough the importance of consultation with a dental health professional. You may be able to keep the pain at bay, but in the meantime you could be giving an underlying problem the opportunity to develop.
In so many cases, something that could have been prevented with a hygienist appointment, may later result in needing a filling. A tooth that may only needed a simple filling, left untreated could result in a possible extraction or even root canal treatment. That niggling sore that you have noticed in your gums could require a basic prescribed treatment plan, but you wouldn’t want it to be anything more sinister.
Without wishing to worry anyone, the point is that prevention is always better than the cure. This is the principle we live by everyday in the dental health sector, and even more so when offering dental care in times of COVID-19.
Dental Care in times of COVID-19 at Banning Dental Clinics
We’d like to assure all our patients that both routine and emergency appointments will go ahead as planned unless you hear otherwise from your clinic. Here’s what you can expect when visiting our clinics:
- We will first ask you to wait outside, until it’s safe to enter
- We take and record your temperature
- We will then provide you with hand disinfectant and a mask
- You will be given shoe coverings and a plastic bag for your personal belongings which will be kept safely outside the treatment rooms
- Between each patient we conduct a deep clean
- We make use of air purifiers to keep the environment as clean as possible
- We offer contactless payments, online consultations and administration to minimise contact in the practice.
We are positive that your visit to a Banning Dental Group Clinic will be a safe and pleasurable experience. We are taking these measures to ensure we can continue to offer dental care in times of COVID-19 We look forward to seeing you!