NHS England recognises that people may be experiencing difficulties accessing dental services.
Practices are providing services in line with standard operating procedures issued by the Chief Dental Officer and Public Health England which means the level of appointments they are able to provide has significantly reduced.
It is therefore necessary for dental practices to triage patients who contact them to ensure that patients with the greatest clinical need, ie those requiring urgent dental care and vulnerable patients are prioritised, which likely means a delay for patients seeking non-urgent and more routine dental care such as check’s ups.
NHS England (NHSE) is actively supporting dental providers across the region to resume regular NHS dental services safely and effectively and in accordance with the advice set out by the Chief Dental Officer.
Progression to resume the full range of routine dental care is being risk-managed by individual practices and overall, they will be seeing those patients with the most urgent issues first. This will be followed by those that have open courses of treatment, with a return to a full routine dentistry following in due course.
In the interim NHSE is working with NHS dental providers to explore opportunities to increase the clinical treatment capacity available within the constraints of the Covid pandemic and infection control measures to ensure that care can be delivered safely for both patients and staff.
Patients are being asked for their understanding and co-operation during this unprecedented and difficult time for the NHS.
• Please ONLY visit your dental practice if you have an appointment and telephone to book an appointment only if essential – dentists are currently prioritising the vulnerable or those with the most urgent need.
• Appointments for some routine treatments, such as dental check-ups, may have to be delayed for a later date.
• Your practice will look a little different than usual as they will be operating in a way that observes COVID-19 social distancing and hygiene rules to ensure everyone’s safety.
•If you develop an urgent dental issue telephone your regular dental practice (or any NHS practice if you don’t have a regular dentist) for advice on what to do next.
•Dental issues will be triaged first over the telephone. If the issue needs face to face care, you will be given an appointment either with the practice or at one of our urgent dental care centres and advised to attend as long as you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms.
•Anyone clinically triaged as requiring treatment will be given clear instructions by the dental practice on what they need to do prior to their face-to-face appointment and once they get to the practice.
•If after telephone triage the clinician decides the issue is not deemed urgent, you may be given advice on how to self-manage the dental problem. You will be advised to make contact again if your situation changes/worsens.
•We know you would like to get your routine dental care but please be understanding of the current situation with regards to the prioritisation of those with urgent needs and be respectful of the clinical decision.
For out of hours care:
•Toothache should initially be managed with over-the-counter pain relief until an appointment can be made with your general dental practice. Chemists are open and a Pharmacist can advise you what is the best pain control to meet your needs”
• Lost fillings, crowns or bridges, broken teeth or braces are not usually deemed to be clinically urgent, and patients are advised to contact their local dental practice when they re-open.
• Only ring NHS 111 out of hours when your dental needs cannot be met by self-care and cannot wait till your practice is open to contact them for advice.