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In the news week commencing 7 September 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 7 September.

Friday 11 September

The Sun profiles various members of the public who resorted to performing their own dental procedures during the lockdown. The people featured gave various reasons for why they performed treatment on themselves. For some it was the lack of access to dentists, when only urgent dental care centres were operating for emergency cases; for others it was a fear that attending the dentist may lead to them contracting Covid-19. The article quotes dentist, Krystyna Wilczynski, about the dangers of patients removing their own teeth. Patients can snap the tooth when removing it and after removal infection can take place. The article mentions Fay Rayward, who appeared on Good Morning in May and described her failed attempts to remove a tooth with pliers. The following day she was seen at an urgent dental care centre and her problem was resolved. Mick Armstrong, chair of the British Dental Association, warned, at the time, against patients taking such drastic measures.


Visits to the dentist fall in Sheffield and plummet across the UK

The Sheffield Telegraph (along with 10 other news outlets, at the time of writing) ) reports that official figures show that patients visiting the dentist during lockdown plunged in Sheffield. The article quotes the British Dental Association as saying that since March dental access has 'fallen off a cliff'. There is a concern that millions of people across the UK are missing out not just on check-ups, but also vital treatments. The figures from the NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group area support these concerns, with less patient visits from last year, due to the lockdown from March.


Sheffield Telegraph, 10/9/20, not available online


Coronavirus: Face masks in shops to be mandatory in Wales

People in Wales must wear face masks in shops and other indoor public spaces from Monday, the first minister has announced. Mark Drakeford said the change came as 20 people in every 100,000 in Wales now had coronavirus. Indoor meetings of more than six from an extended household will be illegal from Monday. The rule will not apply to children under 11 and up to 30 people from different homes can still meet outside.


BBC - Coronavirus: Face masks in shops to be mandatory in Wales


Wednesday 9 September  

Can I get a dental check-up and how do appointments look post-lockdown?
The Telegraph online provides its readers with an update on the state of dentistry now, with extensive input from the BDA. The article highlights that getting an appointment is trickier than ever because dentists are dealing with enormous backlogs. In this regard, the BDA estimates that around 10 million routine appointments were delayed thanks to the initial lockdown and treatments fell by 97 per cent after dentists were ordered to close, with a few hubs open for emergency procedures. BDA research showing that around 66 per cent of practices are running at less than a quarter of pre-pandemic capacity, is also mentioned, with predictions that the situation looks set to get worse. Nearly 80 per cent of dentists say they are likely or extremely likely to face financial difficulty in the next three to six months and just over half said they fear losing staff is an inevitability.

The article points out that around 95 per cent of practices have reopened, but that’s not the end of the struggles the sector is facing. The BDA cites a need for PPE after many dental practices donated their supplies to hospitals and GPs and demand making it costly to replace this equipment. “The masks have to be individually fit-tested for every dentist,” explains Dave Cottam, chair of the BDA's General Dental Practice Committee. “The supply chain's disrupted so if you got used to using one type of mask and that's no longer available so now you have to be tested again for a replacement.” Dave told the Telegraph that it’s slowly “being sorted out” says but progress is slow and prohibitively expensive for a lot of smaller practices.


Tuesday 8 September

Lockdown brought out the best in the dental community and helped final-year student get through her exams

The BDA's news reports highlight daily the devastating impact the pandemic is having on dentists' livelihoods and patients desperately seeking access to care, but what does the future hold for the next generation of dentists? Many have had the final stage of their studies interrupted by the pandemic, with the concomitant effect on their educational attainments, careers and future livelihoods. Simi Panesar is one such student, whose life was turned around by an email she received on 17 March that said: 'All clinical teaching finishes tonight and we do not expect you to return'. Simi discusses how she coped during the crucial final months of her degree. It wasn't all bleak, she said, in fact she says she soon realised that lockdown was almost a blessing in disguise. It truly brought out the best in the dental community, she believes, and cites support from the BDA, her dental school and experts in speciality fields, who offered their free time during the pandemic. They could either discuss case examples or just share knowledge from their chosen field that we can use in practice, she said. With the closure of university libraries, she highlights that the BDA made access to key textbooks for exams available for free via its e-library. "The 'Deciduous – The Young Dental Forum' Facebook group was set up enabling young dentists and students to learn from each other through anonymous case examples, or just simply posting a question." She adds that remote learning via online webinars set up by the dental school or other dental organisations allowed students to continue to broaden their range of learning in the comfort of our own homes.


Dentistry online - Starting life as a dentist five months after graduating


Teeth whitening boom fuelled by people looking in mirror more during lockdown, dentists reveal

A teeth whitening boom has been fuelled by people spending more time looking in the mirror during lockdown, dentists have revealed, a report in the Telegraph  reveals. This highlights that self-reflection during months of little contact with others has led to an increase in enquiries about cosmetic dental procedures including fitting for braces and veneers, and procedures to whiten teeth. Declan Keane, from The Essex Smile Centre, said his keenest clients are those aged between 18 and 35 who do not have children and have saved up money by not going out much while social distancing measures were in place. "We have had a massive increase in enquiries for cosmetic dentistry such as composite and porcelain veneers, invisalign clear braces, and tooth whitening from this demographic - and our implantologist is also extremely busy," he said. The articles also includes commentary from the BDA, and the impact that the pandemic has had on private dentistry.  Mick Armstrong, chair of the BDA, said: "The pandemic hit dentistry fox six, and no practice has returned to business as usual. "Dentists are running at a fraction of their former capacity, but clearly patient demand hasn't gone anywhere. There are millions seeking routine care, urgent treatment and cosmetic work. Ministers will determine whether they have practices to come back to when COVID passes." The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) has also reported that some members have seen a 70 per cent increase in surgeons offering virtual consultations amid a surge in demand. Dubbed a 'Zoom boom' by the BAAPS, the increase is believed to be due to patients researching procedures online at home more during lockdown.



Monday 7 September

I can't have a check-up with my dentist until next April – it's like going back to the dark ages when there were no dentists

This morning the presenter on the Elliot Webb programme on BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester highlighted the BDA's warning that patient access to dentistry has fallen off a cliff since COVID and practices across the country are struggling. The BDA was also quoted as saying that millions of patients have nowhere to go and urged the government to work with the dental trade union to build capacity.


Listeners were encouraged to call in with their experiences of booking a dental appointment. Leslie Jones from Kidderminster phoned in to express her shock at being told by her dental practice, where she has attended for a long time, couldn't offer her an appointment for a check-up till next April. When she realised that the practice wasn't 'joking', she called her practices to see if she could get an earlier appointment but with no success. "Nobody is taking on anyone at the moment, except for emergencies," she said. "This is like going back to the dark ages when there were no dentists." Another caller, Sarah, said she had needed an extraction since late last year. Her face was swollen, she said, and she was in agony, taking course after course of antibiotics. She added that she had reached the point where she would have asked her husband to remove her tooth.


Listen from 09:07


COVID: at least six English NHS trusts could be overwhelmed this winter

The Guardian reports more than 100 NHS trusts in England could be at or above full capacity this winter if they faced a second wave of coronavirus admissions on top of the usual seasonal workload, with figures suggesting that dozens would have 10% fewer beds than needed. The Guardian compared each trust's 2019/20 winter capacity against the number of beds they needed for Covid-19 patients in April, when an average of 16,000 beds were required for coronavirus patients per day, and May, by which time lockdown and physical distancing had reduced the number requiring hospitalisation. The analysis carried out in collaboration with Edge Health suggested that if NHS England experienced April levels of COVID-19 pressure on top of normal winter pressures, 107 of 132 trusts (81%) would have fewer beds than were available to them last winter, with 46 trusts exceeding capacity by 110% or more. But even if COVID pressures are closer to May's lower levels, 79 of 132 trusts (60%) could reach capacity with seven trusts oversubscribed by at least 10% compared with last year. Six trusts could be overwhelmed in either scenario, meaning that some NHS hospitals would struggle to accommodate all seriously ill patients needing admission.