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In the news week commencing 26 October 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 26 October.

Thursday 29 October 2020

FOI revealed that around 13 million patients missed out on dental appointments since lockdown
Last night BBC Look North (Yorkshire) highlighted concerns about the impact of the pandemic on oral health, in particular the effect on children’s health, as many practices are operating at a quarter to a half of their usual capacity due to COVID restrictions. The segment included an interview with Joe Hendron, principal dentist at a practice in Wakefield, who explained that they are running at third capacity, which is having significant knock on effects on the patients they can see. He said the focus at the moment is on seeing urgent cases and they haven’t really been able to see any routine cases or child patients and this is a concern because they miss out on picking up problems early. He highlighted that the PPE dentists are now required to wear might be off-putting for some children and also the worry that once children develop tooth decay it can spread more rapidly than in adults.

BDA chair, Eddie Crouch was also interviewed and pointed out that an FOI request by the BDA revealed that around 13 million patients have missed out on dental appointments since lockdown, creating a major backlog, and the focus is on treating patients in urgent need of care. When asked to comment on people who have resorted to DIY dentistry (including a man who featured in this segment) because they were unable to get a dental appointment, Eddie said this was unacceptable and said that with most practices are open now and that people in urgent need should be able to get an appointment within a week or two.

View from 10:30

Tuesday 27 October

Highlands dental practices at risk of closing due to pandemic concerns
The Highland Times highlights the financial plight of dentists, particularly those who are fully private. The article references a BDA Scotland briefing published on April 8 which ‘indicated that all NHS dentists would receive 80% of the average income’ as part of a package. However, the briefing also pointed out that most practices offer both NHS and private services, meaning that they are only eligible to receive 80% of half of their income, while Highland dentists who offer exclusively private services are struggling under restrictions that are seeing them ‘unable to perform some urgent care procedures’. The article also points out the impact of fallow time as dentists report that they are seeing significantly less patients than in the past, a fact that is dramatically reducing their income. Many have complained that in countries across the globe, aerosol-generating procedures are being carried out and that evidence that they are causing greater spread of COVID-19 is lacking. Dental practices in the Highlands and other areas of Scotland are struggling financially, with many unable to benefit from government compensation.The situation is particularly difficult in areas like the Highlands, where many practices are private.


Monday 26 October

UK researchers claim routine six-monthly check-up appointments do not improve oral health and could be a drain on national resources 
A study reaffirms a NICE recommendation that traditional six-month check-ups aren't necessary for adults with good oral health. Experts at Dundee, in collaboration with the University of Manchester and Cochrane Oral Health, carried out two randomised controlled trials involving 1,736 patients to identify the best time interval between dental check-ups for maintaining good oral health. The review shows that current practice of scheduling six-monthly check-up appointments for all patients does not improve oral health,' said Patrick Fee at the University of Dundee, who led the review. '[This compares] to a personalised risk-based check-up approach or compared to check-ups every two years where patients are at low risk of dental disease. 'Current practice of six-monthly check-ups could be considered an inefficient use of NHS resources, adding unnecessary patient and health service costs for no gain in dental health outcomes.

However, the last NHS dental statistics for 2019/20 found that only 49.6 per cent of adults had attended an NHS dentist in the previous two years, let alone six months. In addition, check-ups function as an oral cancer screening, the British Dental Association pointed out to MailOnline. The BDA’s scientific advisor Professor Damien Walmsley said: 'Every patient is unique, so the frequency of your appointments should be based around your oral health, following a proper risk assessment. 'Routine check-ups give dentists the chance to nip common problems in the bud – from decay to oral cancer patients always get better outcomes when the tell-tale signs are spotted early.'

The researchers emphasised that their findings were about adults having routine check-ups, not those who need to seek emergency treatment or children. They also said: 'This research is also valuable when considering the significant impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effect on dental services worldwide, limiting patient access to dental treatment.'


Dailymail - Healthy adults don't need to go to the dentist every six months and can get away with going only once every TWO YEARS, study claims


AMED Post - Healthy adults 'don't need to go to the dentist every six months'


Patients can expect longer wait due to COVID restrictions
In an interview this morning, BDA board member, Paul Woodhouse told BBC Tees that dentists are still some way away from having the capacity that they had to treat patients pre-COVID, due to the extra restrictions in force, and that patients should expect longer waits, but emergencies will still be dealt with. Listeners were advised to contact their dentist if they were in any pain.

BBC Radio Tees, Antony Collins, 26/10/2020, not yet available online