Does The Covid-19 Tier System Affect Dental Practices In The UK?

Dentist Mike Allen looks at possible implications for dentists

At the time of writing, Burton upon Trent has a relatively low number of new cases of Covid-19. Like many other places though, this could quite easily rise and there will, inevitably, be changes that we have to make to the way that we live in order to keep the numbers down and to make sure that the hospitals are not overwhelmed. It isn’t an easy time for any of us and we hope that our patients are taking care to look after themselves and others by abiding by any new guidelines that are introduced.

There has been some concern amongst dentists (and patients) including those at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice that we could see another enforced closure of practices like we did in the initial lockdown period. In order to assess the risk of this, we look at some of the issues below.

Medium tier

First, let’s look at where we are now and hope that with care and a sensible approach we can stay in this tier or even improve on it. Currently, there is no talk of practices closing at this level. The restrictions on our life at this level are not too severe and we can continue to work and to socialise to some degree. Although not ideal, it does at least mean that we can live a ‘normal’ life up to a point.

What happens if we end up on a higher tier?

At the highest level, our lives will be more restricted and this will include the temporary closure of a number of businesses. At the moment, there is no significant discussion about dental practices being made to close as they did last time. Although we don’t have a crystal ball, our feeling is that closure of dental practices is unlikely.

Given that, as one paper described it, there is a ‘tsunami of tooth decay’ from the first lockdown, another closure would be a serious threat to the nation’s health and could also lead to additional strain on hospitals as some cases may also affect general health; oral cancers for example.

Why we don’t believe closures are likely

Although it is still possible if things get seriously out of hand, we feel that it is very unlikely that we will have to close again. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, as mentioned before, there is the impact on the nation’s oral (and general) health. It is very unlikely that any government would want to make this worse than it already is. Whilst we are working hard to catch up on the backlog of appointments, with the restriction on the number of patients we can see each day, this and other restrictions that are in place within our practice means that we still have a significant challenge ahead.

This brings us to the second reason. Although our Burton dental practice has always taken cross infection control very seriously, and we feel that the risk of Covid infection within the practice would have been low anyway; the additional protections that have been put into place since we re-opened means that a dental practice is as safe as we can make it. These restrictions such as social distancing, PPE etc were not in place before and have further reduced any risk of spreading the virus within a dental environment.

What does this mean for patients?

For the time being, patients can still contact us for appointments as they have since the initial lockdown ended. We will always try to prioritise urgent cases so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a dental problem that you feel needs prompt attention. We will do our best to see you as soon as possible. Should the situation change, we will post updates on our website and we recommend that you check the site for current details if you have an appointment. This will not only keep you up-to-date with the latest information but will enable you to plan for your visit and what you might need to do when you arrive for your appointment.

Like everyone else, we wish that things were back to normal but that may be a little way off yet. In the meantime Mike Allen’s Dental Practice is open to keep your teeth and gums healthy and also for cosmetic dental treatments as well.

If you have any questions about the new procedures that we have in place or about any procedure that you are interested in, please call our Burton practice on 01283 845345.