The FGDP (UK) and the newly-formed College of General Dentistry have unveiled their official guidelines aimed at a safe return to general dental practice.
Released today (1 June), the measures hope to support all dental professionals to take a risk and evidence-based approach when providing dental care in the face of COVID-19.
Ian Mills, dean of FGDP (UK), went live on Facebook to speak to the profession as the guidelines were published.
The expert team behind the document included 30 members of several organisations, including:
- British Dental Association
- British Association of Private Dentistry
- Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
- Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
- Association of Dental Groups
- Association of Dental Implantology.
It also received input and support from the British Society of Dental Hygiene & Therapy and the British Association of Dental Nurses.
Onkar Dhanoya, chair of the group behind the guidelines, said: ‘These guidelines have been developed to address the specific needs of primary dental care.
‘This includes the recognition that whilst safety of patients and team members is the priority, closure of practices is in itself harming patients, their oral health and psychological wellbeing.
‘The use of the risk matrix tables within the guidance allows us to reflect the varied needs of practices and the fluid nature of the current situation.’
The guidance is split into five sections:
- Pre-appointment – this includes the role of digital communications
- Patient attendance – new infection control and prevention procedures to patients
- During treatment – recommendations for approaches to aerosol generated exposures and appropriate PPE levels
- After treatment – procedures to protect patients and the use of an appropriate fallow period following high risk AGEs
- Management/governance tasks – risk assessments for all staff members
Additionally, the newly-released guidelines use the ABC approach (Aspirational, Basic, Conditional) – with ‘basic’ measures being a minimum standard.
Confident and safe return
Ian Mills said: “During the initial stages of the pandemic, it was important that all but emergency procedures were paused.
‘However, we are now at a point where the risk to the oral health of the population will be impacted unless practices are able to reopen – albeit with the correct protection for patients and the dental team.
‘This guidance has been developed as a framework to enable the confident and safe return to practice. This is for now and also into the future as the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve.
‘It is the result of the collaborative effort of a team of dedicated individuals from across the profession. They have spent the last few weeks committed to reviewing the evidence, assessing the risks and finding a way forward.’