While restrictions are gradually easing on many services and businesses dental practices are continuing to adhere to strict UK wide infection control measures which significantly reduce the number of patients that dentists can see each day.
Michael Donaldson the Acting Chief Dental Officer, said that following these standards means that dental staff have to take more time cleaning and disinfecting surgeries between patients while enhanced PPE also slows down the speed at which treatment can be provided and limits the number of hours a dentist can work.
This means that despite the best efforts of practice staff, the levels of face-to-face clinical activity are currently sitting at around 40% of the levels that would have been seen pre-pandemic.
Dentists are open for business however and Mr. Donaldson urged the public to take their oral health seriously and make clontact with their dentist if they have any concerns about their oral health or notice changes within their mouth.
He said; “I would ask the public to be understanding. Dentists are having to prioritise patients so that those with urgent oral health needs are seen first. This means that some routine aspects of care and treatment are deferred, such as check-ups and tooth cleaning.
“All patients who are worried about their oral health, particularly those with an ulcer of more than three weeks duration, with a lump or with a red or white patch that has recently appeared should contact their dentist promptly for advice.
“I would ask that the public continue to be patient but don’t ignore anything out of the ordinary. If something has recently changed in your mouth and it doesn’t seem right please get it checked.”
He added; “During this time when fewer check-ups are available, the public should ensure that they are reducing their chances of needing treatment by concentrating on a healthy diet and good oral hygiene. Sugary snacks and drinks between meals will significantly increase the risk of tooth decay. Make sure you are brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.”