UK dentists looking to learn from other countries, as lockdown measures are eased

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Dentists in the UK are looking to learn from practitioners and policy-makers in other countries, as lockdown measures are eased over the coming months. Although there has been no change in guidelines for UK practices yet, dental bodies are observing what is happening in other nations very closely.

In the US, practices have started to reopen, and dentists in the UK are eager to see how they’re functioning, what kinds of challenges they face and what kind of experience they provide for patients. It may be a while before British dentists are offering routine appointments again, but many are keen to ensure they are ready to get started as soon as the green light is given.

Dr Andrea Ubhi is chairing a series of think tanks with practice owners, and she has been looking carefully at what is happening in America. In Houston, Texas, for example, clinics have started to reopen and one issue, which has provoked concern in the UK, is dental practice owners passing the cost of PPE onto patients. If this scenario were to unfold here, Dr Ubhi said that there could be “disastrous consequences,” which could contribute to longer waiting times for patients at a time when the system is likely to be under significant pressure. 

Dr Ubhi has been candid when discussing the future of dentistry and admits that there are going to be changes and challenges. Many practices are already facing financial hardship, and costs for patients could increase as a result. In turn, some patients might not be able to afford to see a dentist, and this will have negative implications for standards of oral health across the UK. 

For now, dental organisations will continue to monitor the situation in the US, as well as in other European countries like Italy, where practices are just starting to open.

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