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How has COVID-19 affected dentistry? | Interview questions answered

How has COVID-19 affected dentistry?

The pandemic has had and will have a huge impact on the dental profession. 

A shortage of PPE, dentists being redeployed, practices struggling financially and patients struggling to seek access to face-face dental care (due to limitations on what treatments dentists can provide) are some of the struggles the profession has had to deal with. Limitations on the number of patients that can be seen in a day as well as how many AGPs (Aerosol Generating Procedures) can be carried out, are also factors that prevent there being any return to normality for the dental profession any time soon.

Telephone triaging has had to be implemented- this means patients will be asked questions to determine if they need to be/ how quickly they need to be seen or if their symptoms can be managed at home. This also includes carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment for all patients before they attend the practice.

Dental practices have also had to ensure their practice is safe for staff and patients, by following COVID-19 secure guidelines. This includes taking measures such as rearranging waiting rooms by removing seating areas to allow for social distancing, limiting the amount of patients who enter the building, ensuring patients use an alcohol based hand gel upon entering and leaving, physical barriers being used at reception and considering one way exit/entry systems if possible.

Guidelines are continuously changing as the pandemic progresses, which affects the way dental practices can operate. It will be a while before we will see a return to routine dentistry or a return to normality for the dental profession and dentists will have to adapt to a new normal in the meantime as they deal with the uncertainty the COVID-19 pandemic brings with it.

Mediteach Top Tips:

  • The pandemic has also had a direct impact on undergraduate clinical teaching and graduates beginning their DFT/VT.
  • Check out this article written by a foundation dentist on some of the impacts COVID has and will have on newly qualified dentists.
  • https://www.dentistry.co.uk/2020/07/07/foundation-dentist-thoughts-impact-covid/
  • Check out these websites for more information on the impact of the pandemic on dentistry!
  • GDC: https://www.gdc-uk.org/about-us/what-we-do/research/our-research-library/detail/report/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-dental-professionals
  • SDCEP: For guidelines on AGP procedures and fallow times.
  • BDA: For live updates on coronavirus and dentistry.
  • FGDP: https://www.fgdp.org.uk/implications-covid-19-safe-management-general-dental-practice-practical-guide