Why have all the dental practices closed?

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

by Peter Saner Clinical Director


As I write this, all dental practices across the country have been required to close their
doors, offering a remote service of advice and prescriptions. I hope that by the time this
magazine is published, the situation is clearer and that access to care has improved but I
thought it might help to explain how this situation developed.

Dental practices are at the forefront of infection control, making them one of the safest
places to be. The old days of a pot of water in the corner to boil off the bugs are long gone.
The procedures we have now in place to protect you are second to none and involve an
enormous amount of skill and expense between every patient, cross checked on a daily,
weekly, monthly and quarterly basis to ensure that when you come into the practice and
receive treatment, you are not going to catch anything from anyone else.

When a potentially fatal disease like Covid-19 comes along, however, the risk is to us – the dentists
and the staff – and hence to our families and those we come into contact with. Almost
everything we do creates an aerosol; a fine mist of water droplets that go into the air, that
we then breathe in. As the pandemic spread, the risk was that someone with no symptoms
would come in and those water droplets would contain the virus.

To prevent the spread of this disease the emphasis switched rapidly from our usual
measures, to the extreme need to prevent the spread of the virus, and to stop that aerosol
from forming. It also seems that those working in the mouth and throat area are most at
risk from catching the disease in the worst way and so the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in
consultation with the profession decided that we should not see anyone face-to-face.

You can imagine how frustrating this is, as the last thing we want is for you to be in pain or
be suffering from a broken tooth. We want to be able to see you, work out what’s wrong
and sort it. That is the joy of being a dentist and we look forward to the day when we will be
able to open our doors and do that again.

What can be done at the moment?
I hope that by the time you read this, urgent care centres will be well established. Please
phone the practice in the first instance so we can give advice, as the care given by these
centres is likely to be limited. For yourself, please look after your mouth. Brush thoroughly
with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Use little brushes or floss to clean in between the
teeth. Finally, avoid snacking. I know it can be tempting, especially under lockdown, but
please avoid hitting the biscuits and the chocolate to ease the boredom. Not a good idea!

So keep safe and well and we look forward to seeing you soon.