Dental check-ups and treatments involve close contact between the dentist and patient and so should not take place if they are not urgent. Also, dentists and their teams have to avoid, wherever possible, using tools like drills and the ones used for scales and polishes. This is to prevent them from catching the virus from an infected patient and passing it on to other patients. Drills and other high-speed tools create a lot of ‘spray’ from patients’ mouths so dentists need to use protective clothing and equipment. COVID-19 has a seven-day period before symptoms show, where someone wouldn’t know they had it and could pass it on to others. If an unsuspecting patient had a filling, the spray from doing that procedure would likely infect the dentist and the nurse. The personal protective equipment dentists wear when using high-speed tools is currently required by hospitals treating coronavirus patients. Without this equipment dentists, hygienists, therapists and nurses are not safe to treat patients as normal.
What if I have a dental emergency?
Assuming you have not got COVID-19 related symptoms, you should call your practice. They will be able to decide what your options are. If you believe or know you have COVID-19 and have a dental emergency, please phone NHS 111.The Oral Health Foundation also has information for patients at this time.