Thursday 24 September 2020
We have 3.6 dentists per 10,000 patients compared to 8.8 dentists in Germany
This morning, Sally Fairfax, presenter of the mid-morning programme on BBC Radio Humberside announced that we miss going to see our dentist, and joked who would have thought, as she flagged up that check-ups for herself and her family had been cancelled. She pointed out that six months into the pandemic, there is still a long way to go before anything beyond emergency dental care is available to most patients.
When asked why it is so difficult to get a check-up, BDA spokesperson Mark Green explained that a massive backlog of cases has built up since lockdown, and urgent and emergency cases still have to be prioritised. He pointed out that since lockdown on March 23rd, no treatments were carried out until late April /early May when the urgent care centres were established. He explained that the emergency care provided in these represented a tiny fraction of the care that was provided over a similar period last year: this was 2%, he said, which was around 80,000 procedures, compared to around 3.5 million. Mark also pointed out that chronic underfunding of NHS dentistry has exacerbated the access problem. This was only funded to treat around half the population, he said, adding that the ratio of dentists to patients in England was the lowest in Europe. There are 3.6 dentists per 10,000 patients in East Riding, Mark said, compared to 8.8 dentists in Germany. As there was an earlier discussion in the programme about why patients were unable to get a face-to-face appointment with a GP, Mark explained that dentists experienced similar problems with social distancing, protecting staff and protecting patients, with the additional factor to consider being the aerosol production ‘we do when we raise the drill and the spray this creates.’ He said this adds an hour to the downtime or fallow period in the surgery after someone has been treated, which makes it very difficult to deal with the backlog of cases that have built up since lockdown. Mark outlined the telephone triaging system that takes place when patients’ phone up for an NHS appointment and how checks-ups are currently ow down in the list of priorities as emergencies and urgent cases have to be treated first. He predicted that it would be sometime next year before dentists would be able to provide routine check-ups and said there were problems with this as it was best to nip problems in the bud. He stressed the importance of prevention, and advised listeners to resist snacking and to brush teeth their teeth well twice a day.
Listen from around 10.37
Monday 21 September 2020
Dentists rail against trend to trim teeth with a nail file
A Tik Tok video promoting a DIY approach to trimming uneven teeth has triggered a warning bell among dentists, including the BDA’s scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley. He said that filing your teeth with a nail file can permanently damage the structure of your teeth, and possibly make it more prone to tooth decay. With enamel, once you break through the nice smooth parts, you’re opening it up to all sorts of damage and you’re on a slippery slope to problems you could see for the rest of your life,” Professor Walmsley told Yahoo UK. He went on to explain that enamel is a little like a crystal structure, naturally smooth on the outside, but if you start breaking through, bacteria will have a much better way of getting into the tooth, causing decay. Teeth are brittle, he said, so if you file them and the crystal gets unsupported they could start fracturing more. “It is potentially opening them up to problems in years to come when they may need the teeth to be repaired.”
Richard Marques advised people to see their dentist if they are concerned about the shape of their teeth. “I would advise anyone looking to smooth or alter the appearance of their teeth to visit their dentist who can advise on aesthetic procedures such as bonding, contouring, veneers or teeth straightening,” he said. That’s advice echoed by Professor Walmsley. “If your teeth are uneven and you’re unhappy about it, then you need to go and visit a dentist who will be able to advise on the best way to proceed,” he says. “Yes, it'll cost you a little bit of money but at least you're in safe hands.”