Dental practices take steps to prepare for potential second wave

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Dental practices across the UK are taking steps to ensure that they are ready in case of a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

Figures suggest that case numbers are coming down and the death rate has dropped significantly, but there are fears that plunging temperatures and increased susceptibility to other infections, such as flu, in the winter could trigger a resurgence of the virus. In order to ensure practices are ready for all eventualities, many are taking proactive steps now. 

Dental surgeries are already employing measures to reduce the risk of infection, including limited patient numbers, restricted services and procedures, social distancing and the provision of PPE for staff. Innovative sanitation measures are also in place at some clinics, and all practices are following robust infection control and cleaning guidelines. In the event of a second wave, it is likely that these policies would remain in place, and it is possible that clinics could close again. 

As ministers, scientific advisers and health professionals work together to ensure the country is as well-prepared as possible for the winter, there are various measures dentists can take according to Judith Husband, clinical dentist and adviser. Now is the time for dental teams to focus on health and wellbeing in the run-up to what could be another busy period as temperatures fall. Dr Husband is also advising surgeries to ensure they have sufficient PPE supplies, as the demand could soar again, and she is also encouraging practice owners to draw up contingency plans. These plans can be put into place in the event of scenarios, such as an infection being confirmed within the dental team or a large number of staff members having to take time off to self-isolate. 

There is no way of knowing how the virus will behave in the coming months, but it is clear that health officials and scientific experts have concerns about a rise in infections, which could occur at the same time as a peak in winter illnesses. Dentists can prepare for challenging times by starting to make plans now.

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