The Dentist Magazine.

Routine dentistry remains on hold

Published: 5/12/2020 12:00:00 AM

Routine dentistry remains on hold despite Boris Johnson's move towards easing the lockdown restrictions – as dental practitioners were named among the occupations with a high potential for exposure to COVID-19.

Last night (Monday), Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempted to clarify his return to work message in his Downing Street briefing. 

He said employers would need to prove they are ‘COVID secure’ before welcoming back employees.

On Sunday, he outlined the government's workplace guidance plans as part of the move towards easing the current restrictions. The changes – which he called 'baby steps' – included a roadmap for getting Britain out of lockdown with a 51-page dossier that sets out a three-phase strategy for gradually lifting the current restrictions.

However, despite the changes, the latest NHS England and NHS Improvement Primary Care Bulletin reiterated that dental practices will not be opening anytime soon.

In reference to the government’s conditional plan to ease restrictions, it said: ‘All dental guidance and Standard Operating Procedures currently in force remain unchanged. 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. This advice has not changed.’

Meanwhile, a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which estimates exposure to generic disease and physical proximity to others, offered insight into occupations involved working in close proximity with others as well as those regularly exposed to diseases. 

In the UK report, based on US analysis, dental nurses and dental practitioners were in the top 10 occupations most at risk of exposure to disease on a daily basis.

Dental nurses come top of the list in those occupations within the analysis with most exposure to disease.

They were listed ahead of nurses and medical practitioners, houseparents and residential wardens, care escorts and dental practitioners. Dental technicians were also in the top 10 of those exposed to disease.

However, healthcare workers, including those with jobs such as doctors and nurses, were not found to have higher rates of death involving COVID-19 when compared with the rate among those whose death involved COVID-19 of the same age and sex in the general population.

The report reads: ‘Looking at the characteristics of the workers in each of these occupations provides an insight into who might be more likely to be exposed to others with COVID-19 while doing their job.’

The ONS analysed the risk of COVID-19 for specific occupations as part of efforts to understand how the disease is spreading through the UK and who is at increased risk.

It believes the report is a useful indication of which roles may be more likely to come into contact with people with COVID-19, based on what these roles normally entail.

Boris Johnson last night reiterated the government position on its return tow rod policy, saying employers would need to prove they are ‘COVID secure’ before welcoming back employees.