The dental profession have pulled together during the pandemic, to ensure patients continue to receive the care they need.
The first lockdown saw most dental services closed and we understand ongoing concerns about visiting a dentist. Even so, safety is now at the centre of care, to encourage visits and prevent a wider impact on oral health.
Unwanted results from closure are evident across the UK. A recent survey found that mouth cancer referrals were down 33% in the 6 months to November and patients arriving at practices have an increased number of dental issues.
Regular dental examinations are about more than fixing a problem, they preserve health, reduce treatment and bring deeper needs to light. Thankfully, the long term dangers from absence were recognised.
Resumption Of Treatment
Dental practices were allowed to reopen after the Spring lockdown and to remain so going forward. As with other medical disciplines, risks from offering care could be controlled and held less danger than preventing treatment.
For conditions such as cancer, or heart problems, the downside of isolation was clear, although the same applied to the nation’s dental requirements.
A steep rise in antibiotics prescribed to dental patients was seen, as infections were treated from afar. Not a good contribution to preventing antibiotic resistance, or the best solution for patients.
Alongside possible oral cancer cases being missed, decay was worsening. What could have been a simple filling might turn into an extraction, people’s overall wellbeing may suffer, even their ability to eat a sound diet.
Precautions & Advice
The way our pratice operates has changed significantly. From video appointments for triage, to the movement and interaction of people, to an enhanced regime for cleanliness and cross infection control.
Advice is naturally being sought on Covid issues, whether mouthwash will help in oral eradication of the virus, or if press reports on people losing teeth due to Long Covid are accurate.
The answer to both is that research is ongoing. Mouthwash has only been proven in lab tests on the virus, potential damage to the gums and oral vascular system is not yet proven but is being studied.
More will come to light, although the definitive answer lies in individual care. Your reaction to any changes will be personal, existing dental problems could be aggravated by encounters with coronavirus.
Staying Close To Normality
The recent vaccine approval is welcome news and other vaccines will hopefully follow. We still need to manage the next few months well and whilst staying safe, preserve our oral health for the longer term.
Safety procedures at good dental practices are rigorous and will be continued as long as required. We want patients to set aside barriers to oral care and to feel confident when they visit.
Our team understand that dentistry can cause nervousness at the best of times and the pandemic adds to this. Please be reassured that your care will be tailored to you and Covid needs, so that your oral health can be preserved.