Dental experts across the UK are providing virtual services to provide support for concerned patients during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Dental practices across the country have been closed for several weeks, and at present, there are no plans to reopen. At a time when many people are anxious about their health and wellbeing, dentists have adapted the way they work to provide advice and guidance for those worried about oral health issues.
While high street dental clinics are closed, dentists up and down the country have swapped their treatment rooms for their own homes, and they are providing tailored advice for patients using video calls, emails, social media and telephone consultations. Many surgeries are offering registered patients the chance to make a call or get in touch online to raise concerns or ask questions. Anyone who isn’t registered with a dentist can also seek urgent advice from NHS 111.
With practices shut to the public, it’s natural for patients to feel uneasy about approaching their dentist for help, but dental professionals are eager to stress that support is available. Dentists do not want patients to suffer in silence or to resort to DIY treatment at home. There have been reports of some people extracting their own teeth and resorting to DIY filling and crown repairs. While this might seem like a good short-term solution, there are risks associated with DIY procedures, particularly removing teeth. Extracting teeth can cause severe pain without anaesthetic, and there is also a risk of excessive bleeding.
Patients who do need to assistance during the lockdown are encouraged to contact their dental practice as normal. Dentists are on hand to help and they can provide advice, prescribe medication and refer patients to emergency centres if urgent treatment is required. There are ways to alleviate pain and to put a stop to suffering caused by infections or dental injuries that don’t involve pulling out teeth at home. Patients can rest assured that if they do need immediate treatment, they will be cared for in safe setting, with staff kitted out in PPE and clinics complying with the latest infection control policies and procedures.
Dentists understand that it is a very worrying time for patients, particularly those who find themselves in pain and those who were part-way through a course of treatment when lockdown measures were introduced. The message is loud and clear: dentists are there to help and there’s nothing to worry about. Advice and information regarding minor ailments is widely available, and there is a network of urgent care hubs operating across the country to make sure that patients have access to safe treatment while their normal practices are closed. The NHS 11 service is also running outside of working hours, for those who have questions or concerns.