The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every area of normal life in the UK for almost a year now. In terms of dental treatment, there have been multiple delays caused for many patients due to the necessary restrictions put in place during the first lockdown.
As we enter a third national lockdown, dentists are still operating with PPE and COVID-safe measures in place, although many are still only seeing emergency cases. Even in areas where a broader range of services are available, most practices are dealing with huge backlogs from early last year.
Jonathan Alexander-Abt is an orthodontist practicing in the UK and working with the government restrictions.
The PDF attachment contains some advice on visiting the dentist during the pandemic.
Support for Dental Professionals
The General Dental Council, Dental Schools Council and dental education bodies throughout the UK have been working hard to ensure all dental professionals have access to support throughout this trying time. As the second wave of the virus sweeps the country, there is an increased need for flexibility for all medical professionals. The prospects of students in training are also being looked after, with work being done to ensure the long-term prospects of potential new dental professionals are not adversely affected by the fall-out from the pandemic.
Mitigating Risk in Orthodontics
To mitigate risk in orthodontics, there have been new guidelines issued regarding certain treatments and procedures. In particular, guidance has been provided on the continued use of handpieces that generate APGs, or aerosol generating procedures.
There is evidence to show that AGPs with a particle size exceeding 5µm are those that pose the most risk of airborne transmission of COVID particles. The use of slow-speed handpieces is currently still supported by the British Orthodontic Society, as these pose minimal risk when used in conjunction with PPE.
The embedded short video explains more about aerosol generating procedures.
Evolving Service Design
Many dental practices across the UK are evolving their service design to be able to serve as many patients as possible safely throughout the pandemic, as well as help employees retain their jobs despite restrictions reducing the number of patients. New measures include remote triage and consultation, alongside increased digital options.
You can read the results of a recent UK survey on COVID-19 and dentistry in the infographic attachment to this post.