Dental appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic
Dental services have had to accommodate huge changes in the way that they operate as a result of COVID-19, find out more about how we now run our clinic and surgeries during these challenging times. During the peak of the pandemic in 2020 dentistry was restricted to only providing advice, painkillers and antibiotics. These restrictions have now been eased to allow two types of appointments as detailed below.
Aerosols are generated during a number of dental procedures such as fillings, scaling, some surgical procedures, increasing the risk of exposure to the Covid-19 infection. There are two main types of treatments:
- A Non-Aerosol Generating Procedure (non-AGP)
These appointments are the majority of appointments on offer at the clinic. During this type of appointment we can do treatments that do not generate an aerosol (a fine “mist” like spray that is generated by dental equipment during most dental procedures). Examples of treatments that can be provided during a non-AGP appointment include:
- Straightforward extractions
- temporary fillings
- re-cementing crowns/bridges (but only straightforward ones)
- assessment and advice for soft tissue problems
- hand-scaling for urgent periodontal (gum) problems.
Even something as straightforward and common place as drying a tooth with our compressed air-spray (a procedure that you’re all very familiar with) is not permitted during a non-AGP appointment.
Following a non-AGP appointment enhanced cross infection control measures are in place and surgeries and the clinic areas that the patient walks through are disinfected after each patient, this does result in longer appointments needed.
- Appointment for an Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP)
These appointments are now significantly longer for the clinic, details are:
- there are approximately 2 AGP appointments per dentist per day
- these appointments are before lunchtime and end of the working day
- during an AGP we can carry out most of the dental procedures available before the Pandemic
- there is a dramatic difference in the personal protective equipment the staff are now required to wear to remain safe.
- The surgeries are now empty of all non-essential items
- Each surgery has to be decontaminated after each AGP treatment
- After treatment is finished the recommended time to leave the clinic ‘empty’ (known as follow-time) for an AGP appointment is 60 minutes followed by up to 20 minutes cleaning time
3. Booking appointments
All AGP appointments will require an inspection/consultation appointment with the dentist before the appointment is booked and we may also ring you for a telephone consultation.
The result of these significantly increased surgery times needed does mean that we are very limited to how many patients we can see in a day. Plus regrettably conversation will be restricted during the appointment due to limiting the amount of time you will spend in the clinic and also the PPE staff will be wearing. However should you have any questions regarding your treatment a telephone or video consultation can be arranged.
When booking appointments you may also find that we are regrettably unable to be as flexible as previously in offering a suitable day or time but we will do our best.