Dentists seek clarity on Covid-19 measures as teams fight to clear backlogs

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Dentists are seeking clarity on ongoing Covid-19 measures as teams across the country fight to reduce backlogs.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has sent a letter to the dental chiefs of the UK nations raising concerns about the impact of operating at reduced capacity. Restrictions that are currently in place to protect against the spread of Covid-19 mean that dentists are limited in terms of the numbers of patients they can treat.

One of the main concerns raised in the letter is the elevated risk of missing cases of oral cancer at a stage where treatment is likely to be successful. During routine appointments, dentists check for signs of mouth cancer and they can refer patients for further tests and investigations. As routine services are currently unavailable for most patients, there is a risk that many cases could go undetected.

According to the BDA, over 30 million appointments have been missed in England in the last 15 months. Dentists are working tirelessly to try and clear backlogs but they are being held back by stringent measures, which have been in place since the first wave of the pandemic. Dentists have questioned whether such robust measures still need to be enforced and encouraged the chief dental officers to provide clarity as to what the future holds.

As well as an increased risk of missing oral cancer cases, dentists are also concerned about the impact of lockdowns and restrictions on standards of oral health. Regular check-ups play a crucial role in reducing the risk of decay and gum disease. Experts usually advise patients to see a dentist every 6-24 months depending on their oral health status.

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