September 28, 2020
Every Monday we’ll answer your questions on Covid-19 and health in a feature published online. You can submit a question here.
Are Dentists Open Now – And When Will Appointments Return To Normal?
This week, HuffPost UK reader Chris asked: “When do we expect dentists to resume routine procedures, such as fillings?”Depending on where you live and the state of your finances, getting a dentist’s appointment during the pandemic has been either near-impossible or relatively fuss-free. 
When lockdown was first announced, dental practices across the UK remained closed until June. Anyone needing emergency help was told to phone their dentist, with a view to being referred for urgent treatment in hospital. But capacity was limited and some ended up carrying out DIY dentistry at home.
Since June, dental practices have been steadily reopening across the UK, but most have been working on an emergency basis trying to deal with a backlog of patients needing urgent work – so routine appointments are getting pushed back. The main problem with delaying such appointments is that they act as a preventative measure, so people don’t experience hefty dental issues later down the line, which often require drastic (and expensive) procedures. 
Routine appointments are also an opportunity for dentists to keep an eye out for other issues like gum disease and oral cancer – and the earlier patients are treated for an issue, the better the prognosis.
Eddie Crouch is chair of the British Dental Association and owner of a practice in south Birmingham, which offers both NHS and private appointments. He tells HuffPost UK he can’t provide a date for when routine NHS dental appointments will resume across the board. Reports suggest it might not be until 2021.Submit a Coronavirus health question to HuffPost UK.When will routine appointments resume?The NHS England website states that because of coronavirus, changes have been made to routine dental treatment. In England, some routine dental treatments are available again. HuffPost UK has contacted NHS England for further information on when this might resume. 
In Scotland, patients with urgent dental problems are prioritised. A Scottish government spokesperson said: “We will continue to work to fully remobilise NHS dental services as soon and as safely as possible. At present NHS dentists can provide a range of non-urgent care including a full examination of soft tissues to check for mouth cancers, tooth extractions, dentures, orthodontic treatment and the re-fixing of bridges and temporary crowns.”
In Wales, dental practices are open “for urgent, non-aerosol care”. A Welsh government spokesperson said: “Routine dental examinations have not stopped but people are being seen according to need. Practices have been asked to treat people who have experienced problems during lockdown and consider prioritising those who had treatment delayed because of the pandemic.”
While in Northern Ireland, routine care and treatment can be provided, but practices are prioritising patients with the greatest need – so some routine or non-urgent treatments are postponed. Its Health and Social Care Board said in a statement that dental practices are “particularly impacted” by the pandemic.
“Most dental procedures are aerosol-generating ... This has therefore led to a significant reduction in the quantity of treatment that can be provided by dentists,” reads the statement.Related... Grin And Bear It: Why We’re Having Avoidable Tooth Extractions So, why can’t routine appointments resume?Paul Grygan, clinical lead for an Urgent Dental Care Clinic in Northern Ireland, says there are two main reasons why a normal service can’t resume right now. The first is because they need to make sure there’s enough PPE to go around, and the second is because of the risk from aerosol-generating procedures (so basically, most of the procedures dentists carry out).
The worry is that these aerosol-generating procedures – whether that’s drilling a tooth, removing one, or simply cleaning them – could spread Covid-19, as aerosols from a person’s mouth (who may or may not be infected) are being propelled into the air and onto nearby surfaces. 
Another big challenge facing dentistry right now is the social distancing and standard operating procedures, which has meant the volume of patients they can see is “significantly reduced”, Crouch says. In some cases capacity to see patients has been reduced by a half – sometimes more.
A poll of 2,672 practices in England in July revealed while almost all practices reported they’d resumed face-to-face care, two thirds were operating at less than a quarter of their pre-Covid capacity and one quarter were seeing just a tenth of their former patient numbers.
Current restrictions also mean dentists have to leave an hour’s gap between patients after an aerosol-generating procedure and do a deep clean of the room. This means they’re seeing fewer patients and generating less income, while having to foot the bill for more PPE. Why are some people being asked to pay privately for treatment?Despite getting funding from the NHS, a lot of dentists work on a basis where they use income from private appointments to subsidise the other (NHS) side of their business. Some patients are finding when they call up for an appointment, they’re told they cannot be seen. Or that they can be seen, but only if they pay privately.
Independent watchdog Healthwatch England has been collating people’s experiences of NHS and social care services during the pandemic, including dentistry. A report involving responses from 19,700 people revealed many have had to go private if they wanted treatment for what their dentist considered to be a “non-emergency”.
The report also highlighted some dentists have applied additional charges to patients to cover the cost of PPE, making dental care even less accessible.Related... Coronavirus Has Left Dentistry In Crisis, And The Fallout Could Prove Disastrous For The NHS What needs to happen now?At the moment, there isn’t enough financial support available for these practices. While many struggling businesses on the high street have qualified for measures such as business rates relief, dental surgeries do not get this support. “Many of the dentists are falling through the cracks,” says Crouch, and as a consequence of that, “many practices are [financially] vulnerable”.
With local lockdowns in force and Covid-19 cases rising again in the UK, it doesn’t bode well for the return of routine dental appointments anytime soon.
One silver lining is that Crouch doesn’t believe we’ll return to the situation we saw in March where dental practices were closed completely and only triaging patients over the phone.
However there are fears that the issues with accessing dentistry, which was a problem pre-Covid anyway, will simply widen the gap between those who can afford to go private and those who can’t in the coming months.Related... What Are Super-Spreader Events – And How Can You Avoid Them? Can Covid-19 Cause Hearing Loss? Will There Be A Second Lockdown In England?
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
COVID-Sniffing Dogs Could Screen Passengers in U.S. Airports | TMZ
January 25, 2021
b3vkxpnG2_g
Frontier Airlines Passenger Complains About Sick Passenger and Told He Should Drive | TMZ
January 24, 2021
VC2XrqJX6_8
Mattel Honors Poet Maya Angelou With Barbie Doll | TMZ TV
January 21, 2021
nEnK5Q3VqeY
Queen Victoria Comes for Katie, Cheesy Roleplay & Bro-Zoned - "Nightly Pop" 01/25/21 | E! News
January 26, 2021
rL0W6V7Qc3U
J.Lo Challenge Backfires, Wendy's Fall & Bridgerton Sex Scenes - "Nightly Pop" 01/25/21 | E! News
January 25, 2021
T0icFdpMMVg
"Bling Empire" Star Kelly Mi Li Reveals Relationship Status | E! News
January 25, 2021
dn-agi3giT4
Ioan Gruffudd’s wife, Alice Evans, tweets actor is ‘leaving his family’ | Page Six Celebrity News
January 26, 2021
b1ZuMpCCW70
Disgraced billionaire Steve Wynn lists Beverly Hills mansion for $110M | Page Six Celebrity News
January 26, 2021
ZA_bTZ4SBdY
Elliot Page files for divorce from Emma Portner | Page Six Celebrity News
January 26, 2021
cAyj0v_iL_M
Carey Mulligan & Zendaya on Feminist Rage, 'Promising Young Woman,' ‘Malcolm & Marie’
January 26, 2021
rjjvIOoP0t0
Pete Davidson Tells Glenn Close He Thought She Was British | Actors on Actors
January 25, 2021
z_nLMQyx-nk
Golden Globes: Limited Series & TV Movie -- Who Will Be Nominated?
January 25, 2021
UJ8Ty2uStzs
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
26
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Southampton - Arsenal
26
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Manchester City
26
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Bristol City - Huddersfield
26
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Millwall - Watford
26
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Leeds
26
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - West Ham United
25
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Getafe
24
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Schalke - Bayern Munich
24
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Valencia
24
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Elche - Barcelona
24
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Verona - Napoli
24
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Bologna
24
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Sampdoria
23
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Alaves - Real Madrid
23
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Inter Milan
23
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Atalanta
23
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Spezia
22
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Monchengladbach - Borussia Dortmund
21
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Eibar - Atletico Madrid
21
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Burnley
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Aston Villa
20
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Bayern Munich
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Manchester United
19
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Dortmund
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Chelsea
18
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Newcastle United
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.