Measures adopted by dental profession aided recovery from pandemic, report finds

The dental profession rose to the challenge of treating patients as it pushed for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemicThe dental profession rose to the challenge of treating patients as it pushed for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is according to a new report put together by Align Technology, drawn from a number of independent sources.

The research shows the extent to which the profession had to adapt to the virus. This includes increased safety measures and a spike in virtual consultations.

For example, it reveals that patients who have been able to connect with a dentist virtually during the lockdown period had a positive experience.

Those who used a virtual clinic or telephone consultation had 97% and 94% satisfaction with their experience, respectively.

Boost in teledentistry

All dentists questioned agreed or strongly agreed that a teledentistry system would be very useful in saving time. Dr. Ben Atkins, president of the Oral Health Foundation, suggests teledentistry has boosted the patient experience.

Now, he recommends that dentists consider increasing their teledentistry offering. This can help to reduce the risk of viral transmission and compliance with social distancing measures.

Additionally, the profession earmarked adult orthodontics as an opportunity post lockdown. More than three quarters (80%) of orthodontists saw an increase in adult patients. And more than half (60%) say this is due to heightened awareness of adult orthodontics.

Furthermore, around 15% of orthodontists say adult patients are influenced by celebrities and public figures.

Dentists have been told they should prepare one month’s worth of PPE in reserve in the event of a second wave. But no dentists questioned reported concerns about access to PPE.

Appointment shortage

Other findings include:

  • More than 95% of dental professionals report that lockdown had an adverse impact on the nation’s oral health. As a result, they are pushing for greater access to affordable dental care
  • Additionally, 88% said the UK’s dental health could decline following a shortage of routine appointments
  • Three quarters (77%) fear oral cancers are going undetected.

Oral cancer specialist, Professor Mike Lewis, reported that where he normally receives 100 oral cancer referrals, over the same period of time, he received only three.

He believes this underlines the need to ensure patients have regular access to dental practices.

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