Reopen wide! Dentists reopen this week but can't do fillings

Reopen wide! Dentists are set to start appointments again this week… but only a THIRD will see patients face-to-face

  • One third of dentists reopening this week will offer face-to-face appointments 
  • Nine in ten dentists say they lack the necessary PPE to offer routine procedures
  • The British Dental Association says dentists will be unable to use drills for fillings 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Patients face agonising waits for fillings despite dentists being allowed to reopen from today, their professional body has warned.

Only a third of dentists are set to offer face-to-face appointments this week and nine in ten say they lack the necessary PPE to offer routine procedures.

Practices can reopen if strict coronavirus safety measures are in place.

But the British Dental Association (BDA) said PPE shortages mean the majority will still be unable to perform any procedures requiring drills.

Pictured: Dentist Fiez Mughal (left) and Dental Nurse Johanna Bartha (right) carry out a procedure on a patient in one of the six surgery rooms at East Village dental practice on May 28, 2020 in London

A poll of 2,053 surgeries found just 36 per cent plan to resume appointments.

Nearly three quarters said PPE shortages meant they would be unable to perform ‘aerosol generating procedures’ – anything involving a drill.

Mick Armstrong, of the BDA, said: ‘Those practices reopening now face fewer patients and higher costs and will struggle to meet demand.

‘Dentists returning to work still lack the support offered to our neighbours on the high street, and even clarity on key worker status when it comes to childcare.

‘Ministers must change tack if dentistry is going to survive the new normal.’

Dentists have already been told to stop AGPs for all patients receiving non-urgent care.

Where necessary, the dental team must all wear a full face shield, goggles or visor in addition to a surgical face mask to protect themselves from airborne droplets.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, the 10,000 practices in England would typically carry out 3.25million appointments a month.

But millions of appointments will be cut each month, with practices only able to see a handful of patients a day.

Commenting on the poll, Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘This will no doubt have been an agonising time for those suffering from dental problems during the lockdown.

‘The reopening of dental practices is a welcome step, but it is vital that this doesn’t risk the health of dentists, patients and staff.’ 

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