More than 10 million dental appointments delayed due to COVID-19

booking dental appointmentsThe BDA estimates a 10 million backlog of appointments due to dental practices shutting down during the COVID pandemic.

It believes it could take months or even years for dental practices to work through the backlog. Particularly as many are not currently working at full capacity due to increased infection control requirements.

Alongside this, the BDA highlights how many practices are struggling financially. And closures could potentially leave millions without access to dental treatment.

‘It’s a struggle dealing with the backlog, let alone new cases. Ministers must ensure this does not become the new normal,’ Mick Armstrong says.

‘We have thousands of practices struggling to stay afloat. If they go under their patients have nowhere to go.’

Fallow period

The BDA estimates practices are working at around a quarter of their usual capacity due to increased infection control requirements.

However, under half of the international dental guidelines assessing AGPs recommend a fallow period for non-COVID patients.

A recent report assessed how aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) are defined internationally and what mitigation processes were advised. Current SOPs in the UK suggest a 60-minute fallow period after an AGP procedure and a 15-20 minute period for non-AGP procedures.

Looking at national dental recommendations from 58 countries, the report shows only 48% recommended a fallow period following an AGP treatment.

The report also found that most countries releasing recommendations for COVID-19 patients advised the same measures for non-COVID patients.

Child decay

NHS figures over the weekend show there were 44,685 extractions of multiple teeth in under-18s in England during 2018/19.

This equates to a 17% rise in the number of extractions in children since 2012/13. The total cost to the NHS is now £41.5 million, rising from £27.4 million in 2012/13.

Councils are now warning of a post-coronavirus surge in dental treatments following lockdown.

‘These latest figures demonstrate the damage which too much sugar can do to young people’s teeth,’ Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, says.

‘The fact that, due to the severity of the decay, 177 operations a day to remove multiple teeth in children and teenagers have to be done in a hospital is concerning. It also adds to current pressures on the NHS.

‘We need to do all we can to reduce how much sugar our children eat and drink. This includes investing in oral health education. So everyone understands the impact of sugar on teeth and the importance of a good oral hygiene regime.

‘Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent diseases affecting young people’s ability to socialise.’

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