Dentists in England given further guidance on re-opening

Dentists have been provided with further guidance on how to safely resume services in England from Monday, including protective equipment for staff.

Remote consultations are set to continue, but patients who are not thought to be infected with Covid-19 could be offered face-to-face appointments.

Meanwhile, suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases who require urgent dental care will be referred to Urgent Dental Care hubs, according to guidance issued by the Office of the Chief Dental Officer and NHS England.

Welcoming the guidance, the Faculty of Dental Surgeons at the Royal College of Surgeons of England said “clear hygiene rules, social distancing in waiting areas and adequate PPE” must be in place before treatments restart.

The standard operating procedures, which set out a “phased transition” to resuming a full range of dental services, have been published ahead of practices reopening on June 8.

Guidance says that aerosol generating procedures (AGP) – a dental treatment where water instruments are used – should be avoided where possible.

Such procedures can increase the risk of transmission to healthcare workers and should only be carried out if a practice has appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), advice states.

If such a treatment must be carried out, the room should be left vacant with the door closed before cleaning.

When scheduling face-to-face care, dental services must adhere to PPE protocols in line with official advice.

Dental leaders have previously called on the Government for assurances that protective equipment would be readily available for dental practitioners by June 8.

For an AGP, the guidance says staff must wear disposable, fluid-repellent gowns, gloves, eye/face protection and an FFP3 respirator to prevent transmission.

For non-AGP care, standard infection control precaution PPE should be worn – which includes eye-protection, a disposable fluid-resistant mask, disposable apron and gloves.

Magazines and toys should be removed from waiting areas, the guidance says, while social-distancing measures should be taken to minimise the number of patients in the surgery.

Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgeons, said that resuming dental practices would be a “process not an event”.

“Dentists are looking forward to being able to serve their communities on an expanding scale once again, but it will be some time before services return to providing care in a similar manner to that seen before lockdown,” he said in a statement.

“Recovering dental services is a process not an event.

“We are not flicking a switch but entering a phased transition to the resumption of a full service, and the pace of re-opening remains dependent on a continuing decline in Covid infections.”

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