Dental profession questions ‘discrepancies’ in advice for dentistry and gyms

running on treadmill at the gym

As the UK continues to ease its lockdown measures, a spectrum of regulations and guidance has been put together for different industries.

Now, the dental profession is asking why practices continue to have more stringent regulation requirements than facilities such as gyms.

In a letter from the Independent Dental Association in Wales (IDAW), it is calling for urgent transparency from Dr Tracy Cooper, the chief executive of Public Health Wales.

Earlier this month, the Welsh government allowed gyms to reopen, sparking questions from the dental profession.


Speaking to Dentistry Online, the association said it is looking for openness in the government’s decision making.

‘IDAW are looking for some openness from PHW as to how these huge decisions are made. And why there are such discrepancies between the advice given to different professions and industries,’ it said.

‘We believe it is a fair assumption that the same body of scientific evidence is being used to inform these decisions. However, there has been widely differing conclusions. At the moment, there appears to be a distinct lack of transparency that urgently needs addressing.’

Currently, a number of measures have been set out for gyms in Wales. These include:

  • Keeping a two-metre distance where possible
  • Other measures to avoid close interaction, such as screens, face coverings and enhanced hygiene
  • Information for customers and staff to help them understand the necessary protocols for safety on the premises.

Additionally, there is no requirement for a fallow period.

Lack of accountability

The letter from the IDAW argues that private dental practices have had to adopt ‘the same restrictions and regulations as…NHS colleagues without the financial cushion of being publicly funded’.

As a result, it states that many dental businesses are collapsing under the restrictions of fallow times.

It adds: ‘Patrons of those establishments can now use exercise equipment that the previous user will have breathed and spluttered over for perhaps 30 minutes or more.

‘Within the regulations imposed upon gyms, a cursory wipe down is all that is required to render the equipment safe for the next user.

‘No fallow times or PPE of any description are required. Is a different scientific resource being used to justify this?

‘However what concerns me, and the primary reason that I write to you, is the lack of transparency and accountability in Public Health Wales, which does not allow these policies to be challenged.’

Additionally, it asks for a response to a number of questions in the hope of improving accountability.

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