This is what we know so far about when dentists could reopen in the UK

Friday, 22nd May 2020, 3:51 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd May 2020, 3:51 pm
When are dentists set to reopen again? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Boris Johnson unveiled plans to ease England out of lockdown restrictions, gradually opening up shops, cafes and restaurants and allowing children to go back to school in a phased manner if the rate of infection remains low.

But when are dentists set to reopen again?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the latest government advice to dentists?

While Boris Johnson announces some easing of the lockdown rules, and a road map out of lockdown which encompassed shops, bars and restaurants and schools, there has been no mention of when dentists will reopen in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Dentists will be providing patients with advice, analgesics and antibiotics over the phone where appropriate, with those then in need of emergency treatment being referred to urgent care hubs which have been set up in various spots around the UK.

The BDA said practices are still to treat, “initially via advice, analgesics and antibiotics where appropriate, and to triage care into the various urgent care systems.”

The Office of the Chief Dental Office (CDO) in England has reinforced the 'no change yet' message, explaining that the temporary closure of dental practices is for the safety and protection of customers and staff.

It stated:: “the temporary cessation of routine dentistry addresses the safety of patients and of dental teams as well as supporting the public health measures required to slow community transmission of COVID-19”.

However,

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed Scotland's phased route map out of lockdown on Thursday (21 May), explaining that measures will begin to be relaxed from 28 May.

The plan features a phased return of NHS dental services in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s phased return of NHS dental services in Scotland was outlined in a letter to the British Dental Association from Scotland’s Chief Dental Officer (CDO) Tom Ferris on 20 May.

He stated: “As you will be aware this is an extremely complex process. We need to be mindful of the oral health needs of patients balanced against the wider situation with Covid-19, and the essential requirements that we reduce the risk of community transmission and protect both patients and dental teams.”

The letter goes on to explain that aerosol generating procedures, which produce airborne material during dentistry procedures, carry an extra risk of transmission.

When will dentists reopen throughout other areas of the UK?

Discussions are beginning to take place around the UK with regards to when dentists will reopen.

The Chair of the BDA, Mick Armstrong, and Chief Executive, Martin Woodrow, both met with Health Minister Jo Churchill and CDO Sara Hurley to discuss the general approach in England, both for NHS and private practices.

Wales is also looking at what adjustments will need to be made to NHS dentistry after lockdown.

When could shops, outdoor cafes and cinemas open?

Under the new plans to gradually ease lockdown restrictions, schools may begin to reopen by 1 June in England, if the infection rate is low enough, along with the phased reopening of shops.

Outdoor cafes could begin to reopen in July, along with public places including churches and cinemas.

Boris Johnson explained that this would happen as long as the two-metre social distancing rule can be enforced and "if, and only if, the numbers support it”.

However, such changes do not apply across the whole of the UK, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland asserting their right to set their own lockdown guidance.

There are no significant changes to lockdown rules in Scotland, but daily exercise outdoors is now unlimited.