Everyone should be able to access the care and advice they need to keep their teeth healthy and at 543 Dental Centre we have always worked hard to offer all our patients the best care possible. However, as you may well have heard in the news recently, many areas of the NHS have suffered due to the pandemic and dentistry is no exception. The closure of practices last spring, coupled with measures that have vastly reduced capacity to treat patients, has resulted in fewer appointments being available. The British Dental Association estimates that 19 million appointments have been lost nationwide during and after the first lockdown.
Some news reports make grim reading, with eye-grabbing headlines about people being (very wrongly!) advised to use a nail file on a broken tooth, apply superglue to refit a loose crown or worst of all, deciding to extract their own teeth as a result of unbearable pain. But in reality, despite the fear-factor these stories can generate, such cases are thankfully very rare.
As we headed into lockdown once again last November, one very good piece of news was that dentistry was officially designated an ‘essential’ service, meaning that practices have been able to stay open, albeit with reduced capacity.
Why are dental services limited?
Although dental practices are open, we are currently working within strict guidelines, which require us to leave additional time between patients, known as ‘fallow time’. The amount of time is determined by the type of treatment being performed, but even a short period of time lost, has a big impact on the number of patients we are able to see during each session.
543 Dental Centre has invested heavily in additional ventilation systems in every surgery, to mitigate the impact of fallow time, but we cannot reduce this to pre-pandemic levels.
So, despite our desire to treat as many patients as we were this time last year, at the moment this is impossible under the current restrictions. Patient and staff safety are our top priorities, and we cannot and will not cut corners with regard to social distancing, PPE or fallow time. We will however work as efficiently as possible and make as many appointments as possible available for our patients.
How you can help
All patients can play their part in helping to keep the practice running as efficiently as possible and below are a few simple things you can do to help:
- Be at the practice 5 minutes before your appointment is due. Any earlier will cause an issue in terms of social distancing but turning up late means delays for everyone.
- If you cannot attend for some reason, please call and let us know. In this way we can offer your appointment to someone else and re-arrange your appointment at a suitable time. This means we do not lose any surgery time.
- Complete your medical history and other forms remotely if possible, this reduces the time you need to spend in the practice and keeps patients flowing.
- Attend alone where possible.
- If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or you have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive, please do not attend the practice. Call us and we will re-arrange your appointment.
Thank you for your co-operation
It’s been a tough 12 months for everyone, and we hope that at last there is some light at the end of the tunnel. So, thanks to all our patients who have been so patient and co-operative during this time, we really appreciate it.
See all our COVID safety measures.