Dentists call for roadmap to normality as Covid backlog grows

Dentists have written to Scotland’s Chief Dental Officer asking for a review of restrictions around dental practise as the backlog caused by Covid-19 continues to grow.

Practices are still operating at a fraction of capacity, the British Dental Association said, in order to meet current infection prevention and control guidance.

In a joint letter to the Chief Dental Officers of the four nations, the BDA called for the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) to be commissioned to develop a roadmap for the safe relaxation of current restrictions.

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The review should take into account current infection levels, the BDA said, as well as vaccination and the threat of new variants.

Dentist Fiez Mugha and Dental Nurse Johanna Bartha carry out a procedure on a patient. Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

The organisation also pointed to evidence suggesting medical care may be less of a transmission risk than originally thought, which might mean dentists could operate with less restrictive PPE.

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The BDA called for the impact of Covid-19 on oral health and health inequalities, warning that limited access to care, poor diet during lockdown, and the pausing of public health programmes will have effects in years to come.

Delayed or missed diagnosis of oral cancers should also be reviewed, it said.

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said: "We have asked all four UK Chief Dental Officers to begin work on a roadmap to ease restrictions.“The risk we face today from the virus needs to be balanced against the millions unable to access care, and threats to the very sustainability of this service.“It is time to let the experts weigh up the risk of Covid transmission with the dangers of prolonging the status quo. We know this issue is already high on the official agenda but patients and the profession deserve clarity on the way ahead.”

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