A NEWRY dentist has warned that despite the re-opening of surgeries in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is not simply a case of getting back to business as usual.
Seamus Hughes of Hughes O’Boyle Dental Surgery, in Trevor Hill, Newry told the Democrat:
“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown dental practices have operated behind closed doors. Fielding calls and Triaging patients.
“Some treatments performed locally others sent to specialist dental centres staffed by many local volunteer dentists (Brownlow & Lisburn the closest two).
“On Tuesday (of last week) Michael Donaldson acting Chief Dental Officer announced the phased return of high street dentistry on Monday 8th June.
“A full scale reopening this is not.
“It is the first stage of a three stage process.”
He went on to outline what these initial stages will look like to the public:
“The first stage will still look a lot like what is happening currently it is more “ priming of the pump”
“Dental Practices will operate behind a closed door.
“Access to practices will be very controlled. “Patients will be screened for Covid-19 symptoms before visiting & on entrance to the practice.
“Social distancing means waiting rooms will be much emptier than normal with only essential parents/guardians/carers allowed with patients.
“There’s a good chance toilets will be locked.
“Treatments will involve basic treatments dressings, simple extractions etc.”
And despite the re-opening of practices, not all proceedures will be immediately available as Mr Hughes pointed out:
“Treatments requiring the use of Dental Drill will not be possible locally during this phase.
“Urgent/Emergency cases that require drilling will be sent to one of the Urgent Dental Centres.
“Dental practices already have very high standards of cross infection however longer times will need to be left for patients entering & leaving treatment rooms.”
He finished by saying that whilst this wil be an unfamiliar set-up for patients, the same will be true for staff:
“This will be a real learning experience for Dentists, Staff & Patients.
“As the threat of Covid-19 lifts phases two & three will welcome in more routine dentistry.”
Dental surgeries had to stop offering routine face-to-face appointments at the start of lockdown.
This is due to them involving what are called aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs).
These can result in droplets being thrown into the air, which creates the potential for Covid-19 to spread.
Dentists have only been able to provide advice on pain relief and infection, and urgent care for patients with problems like uncontrolled bleeding and swelling - about 2,000 a week across Northern Ireland.