When the first lockdown happened in Spring 2020 dental clinics pretty much closed their doors for 12 weeks. As lockdown measures eased, clinics started to reopen all be it cautiously and with many practices only opening for routine procedures. Now we’re in lockdown 3.0, dentists have kept their practices open and are undertaking routine procedures as well as more complicated dental issues.
If you have a routine dental appointment booked or need to get emergency dental treatment and are concerned about the risks with regards to COVID-19, you can be rest assured that your dental practice will have nothing but your health and well-being at the forefront of their minds.
The General Dental Council (GDC – https://www.gdc-uk.org/) introduced compulsory registration for dental care professionals and Continued Professional Development (CPD) in 2008. Dental care professionals not only include your dentist but also Dental Nurses, Dental Hygienists, Dental Technicians, Clinical Dental Technicians and Dental and Orthodontic Therapists.
Dental teams are not only trained in oral care, but they are also trained in infection prevention and control, even before the pandemic. Undertaking UK dental courses each year allows your dental team to keep up to date with industry developments, best practices and ensures their knowledge and skills meet the required standards through reflective learning.
As many clinics were closed for a period of time, your dentist may still be catching up on appointments as they work their way through a backlog of patients. You may find that they have prioritised appointments to see those needing urgent dental care first, followed by those who are at risk of oral disease and then those who have outstanding treatment needs i.e., those who did have appointments booked but were cancelled during the lockdown.
All dentists will have introduced new COVID-19 guidelines into their practice to keep you, other patients, and their staff safe. This may involve reading and signing forms and/or answering screening questions on the phone prior to your appointment.
On arrival you will probably be asked to use hand sanitiser or to wash your hands and you may also be asked to wear a mask. If your dental practice is small you may be the only patient in the clinic to adhere to social distancing guidelines. In larger clinics you may have to follow a one way system and take notice of any 2 metre markers. Your dental team will probably be wearing different PPE to you but don’t be alarmed, this is to keep you and them safe.
Make sure you do not arrive early for your appointment as your appointment will be scheduled to fit in with other patients in the clinic. Children and people in need may attend the clinic with a parent, or carer but otherwise you should attend your appointment on your own.
Dental treatments will probably stay like this for the foreseeable future, but you can be rest assured that your dentist and dental team will be doing everything they can to deliver the treatment you need in the safest way possible to protect you and them.
For further help and advice, you can visit the NHS website – https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/primary-care/dental-practice/