Dentists raise concerns over access to urgent care, as practices close

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Dentists have raised concerns over access to urgent dental services, as practices have been advised to close to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The British Dental Association reported that dentists are worried about being able to provide emergency care for their patients. Dentists were advised to cancel routine appointments, and many practices have shut to reduce the risk of patients and staff contracting coronavirus. Dental professionals are at greater risk due to the proximity with patients. While most dentists support measures to encourage social distancing, there are worries that urgent dental services are not available for patients in need.

The BDA said that practices have adapted, using techniques and technology like video calls and web cams to offer advice to patients, but stressed that those who need urgent treatment may find themselves in a difficult situation. Emergency dental services are not up and running in all areas, and dentists are unable to intervene as they would normally. Representatives warned that patients could end up being in a postcode lottery, with some able to access services and others forced to make do with temporary measures, for example, pain relief prescribed by dentists online.

Chair of the BDA, Mick Armstrong, said that dentists supported measures to protect colleagues and patients, but urged the government and health chiefs to work quickly to establish effective emergency dental services. Some patients have already reported turning to DIY dentistry in a bid to ease pain because they couldn’t get an appointment.

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