The Impact Of Minimal Dental Care
Understand why routine dental check-ups have been cancelled across the UK and why children’s oral health may be at risk.
The pandemic has created countless challenges alongside the physical effects of the Covid-19 virus. From mental health issues and missed education to financial difficulties and relationship breakdowns, the impact of restrictions on society have been immeasurable. Accessing dental care has also been a considerable challenge for Brits during the pandemic. With dental surgeries widely closed from mid-March during the height of lockdown, until the 8th June, millions of appointments were cancelled or postponed across the nation. In an Opinium survey of 2,000 people, conducted by the Association of Dental Groups, half of the parents involved revealed that their children have missed a check-up appointment since March.
Why Are Appointments Being Missed?
Closing dental practices during lockdown meant that a backlog of patients requiring appointments was able to build up. For busy surgeries who were already struggling to offer timely appointments for their registered patients, the impact of lockdown was tremendous. However, simply opening the surgery doors again doesn’t mean that dentists have been able to whizz through and clear this unprecedented backlog.
Due to the way that Covid-19 is transmitted as a respiratory disease, being in close contact with others is a tremendous risk, particularly during aerosol-generating procedures.
Mitigating The Risk of AGPs
A professional Chelmsford dentist explains that aerosol-generating procedures, or AGPs, such as treatments involving a drill can cause particles to be forced out of a person’s mouth and into the air around them. If a person is infected with Covid-19, then these contaminated particles can spread infection to anyone who comes into contact with them. To mitigate the risk of catching Covid-19 within the environment of a dental practice, fallow times have been introduced as a way to thoroughly cleanse treatment rooms between patients. Initially, it was recommended that fallow times were as long as 60 minutes. This was measured from the end of an appointment where an AGP had been performed, up to a cleaner re-entering the room for a deep-clean before the next patient entered. Naturally, the fallow strategy has radically reduced the number of patients that dentists are able to see each day, which is one of the reasons why children haven’t been able to attend their routine check-ups.
However, another reason why patients are not receiving dental care is due to their own fears about being out in public. As many as 31% of people in the survey had chosen not to attend an appointment. Unfortunately, whilst social distancing is essential during the pandemic, the negative effect of not receiving dental care can be pronounced in children. Where the enamel of children’s teeth is delicate, this can create a weakness when exposed to sugar-laden diets which may be more likely with so much time spent at home.
Safeguarding Child Dental Health
Many dentists are open and accepting appointments, so it would be wise to call in and schedule a visit, even if it’s way in the future. If you have any immediate concerns about your child’s dental health or feel that an urgent appointment is required, then seek advice from your practice as soon as possible. For daily maintenance, it’s a good idea to supervise brushing to ensure that positive dental routines are established.