Coronavirus update – 15th July 2020
We are pleased to announce that we are open again for treatment!
Following the move to “Phase 3”, we are once again able to carry out some elements of routine dentistry. Please note that although we can carry out all aspects of dentistry on a private basis, we are limited to the number of appointments we can offer due to a number of factors.
There has been a lot of confusion surrounding what dentists can and can’t do. Primarily this is due to the presence of aerosols following certain treatments – and unfortunately this is about 70-80% of any treatments we can carry out. However, this needs to be clarified:
- The Scottish government have told dentists to return to routine dentistry with the exception of aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs)
- The ban on AGPs applies to NHS treatments only – these must be performed in “hubs”, where a limited range of treatments are available. Sometimes this means that the treatments carried out are not appropriate for the long-term health goals of our patients – for example, taking a tooth out rather than trying to save it
- We have implemented very high standards of disinfection and protection, over and above what is carried out in the hubs. Whenever an AGP is carried out, the air is sprayed with a disinfectant and then the surgery is left for a “fallow period” after the treatment to allow full ventilation, and for any residual aerosol to dissipate. We check that the levels of particles in the air has returned to baseline before any further use of the surgery. This is typically 30-45 minutes.
- We have invested heavily in protective equipment for staff. This includes the use of respirator masks and surgical gowns for any AGP. The protective equipment provided to dental practices by the NHS is limited in supply and, in our view, of a low quality and cannot be relied upon. Therefore we are using a higher grade of equipment even for treatments not involving an AGP.
- We have produced a “Standard Operating Procedure” which has been approved by the body that inspects dental practices. This is a lengthy document that specifies how we work to keep patients and staff safe. However, we are limited to operating a single surgery only at present
- The NHS are currently NOT supplying any practices with the type of masks or gowns needed for AGPs. This is the key factor in why some practices are not allowed to perform AGPs. In normal circumstances, all dental practices are responsible for purchasing their own protective equipment.
Nevertheless, the fallow period is the factor which limits our ability to see our usual volume of patients. For that reason, we are prioritising people who were in the middle of treatment at the start of lockdown, and once we have cleared this backlog, we aim to return to routine maintenance.
I wish to stress that we do not have any financial assistance from the NHS and are opening despite being in a financially worse position by doing so. We are not charging for protective equipment as some other practices are doing, and we are doing this because we feel that it is the right thing to do for our patients.
We hope you understand that the situation we are in is not what we want to be doing, but hopefully this will be a temporary situation until we move to “Phase 4”.
Duncan, Neil and the team at the Old Orchard Dental Practice