Covid-19 and Dentistry

Covid-19 had a massive impact on dentistry in the UK and it may have changed the way dentistry is provided, forever. 

Friday 20th March 2020 was the day I stopped working clinically as it became apparent that we all needed to help reduce the number of people travelling for non-emergencies. The definition of a dental emergency differs depending on who you talk to but with Covid-19 affecting lives in an unprecedented way, a dental emergency became more defined. Anything that could become life-threatening for the patient. Across the country, routine dental treatment ceased as the pandemic worsened.

The reasons for dentistry being affected so severely was due to the nature of the treatments which can generate aerosols, putting patients and staff at risk. As a patient could be asymptomatic, there was no certain way of knowing who was infected. Even by checking temperatures and asking patients with continuous coughs to stay at home, there was a real risk of failing to identify those with Covid-19.

During April, urgent dental centres (UDC) were set up with the personal protective equipment (PPE) and protocols to handle patients as safely as possible. UDC’s were relatively few in number and patients struggled to get appointments across the country, with news reports of patients trying to take their own teeth out. Some dentists were redeployed to assist within the wider NHS and for some dentists, staying at home was the only other option. 

Dental practices could offer advice, analgesics (pain-killers) and antibiotics to their patients until the UDC’s were set up. This opened up an option to refer the most severe cases but some patients who were not as severe had to manage their pain at home. Dentists wanted to help but could only do so much without being able to treat patients.

I had a conversation with Dr. Stewart McLean to get his perspective on how Covid-19 affected dentistry and dentists working within hospitals.

Dr Stewart and Dr Arnold discuss how they have been impacted as dentists

Dr. Stewart McLean works as a dental core trainee. You can find out about his journey into dentistry by clicking here.

For a dental timeline of Covid-19 and its impact you can check the BDA site.

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