An update on the restarting of NHS dental services in the Midlands following the introduction of further national restrictions

Although tighter national restrictions came into force on 5 November, in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, dental practices will continue to remain open.
cup of mouthwash at dentist

Anyone needing urgent dental care either for themselves or their children should feel reassured about the safety measures in place. It is important that urgent dental care is sought where needed.

As previously advised, most practices are providing face to face care and 90% can offer aerosol-generating (AGP) procedures (some treatments involving the use of powered instruments like drills or scalers) through the use of enhanced infection control measures and PPE.

There are also currently 93 Urgent Dental Care Centres across the Midlands providing urgent care for those patients who do not have access to a regular dentist or whose dentist is not yet offering the full range of services.

Due to the infection control and social distancing measures in place, necessary to ensure everyone’s safety, the capacity for dental practices to see patients is currently still very restricted. Current enhanced infection control measures include the requirement for each surgery to be left for up to 30 minutes between patients prior to deep cleaning following an AGP procedure.

For this reason, the management of urgent patients and those in vulnerable groups is still the priority for many practices, who may be prioritising the most vulnerable patients and asking that routine appointments wait.

Most dentists will require patients to be clinical assessed by phone or video consultation prior to them being seen in the dental surgery if this is needed. Dental practices can prescribe antibiotics or painkillers and this can be done by phone.

Anyone who feels unwell or has any Covid -19 symptoms or is self-isolating following contact from NHS Test and Trace should not visit their normal surgery even if they have a confirmed appointment. It is important for patients to be honest about whether they are symptomatic or have been asked to self-isolate. Dedicated urgent dental centres continue to operate where symptomatic or self-isolating patients needing urgent care can be seen and treated.

NHS advice for people seeking NHS dental care

People should continue to contact their local dental surgery by phone for advice on dental care and treatment. Out of surgery hours patients should contact NHS 111. Patients are still expected to pay normal dental charges (unless exempt) but should not be charged extra.

NHS patients should not be told that they can only access care privately. In some cases you may have to wait longer than normal for an appointment for treatment (particularly for AGP procedures) as dentists will be prioritising the most urgent cases.

If you do not have a regular dentist or have not recently accessed NHS Dental care then please contact NHS 111. It is often quicker and easier to use the online system rather than phoning. You will then be directed to a dental practice who can assess you by phone and if needed you will be offered face to face care at a practice with capacity to see you. This may be an urgent dental centre.

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