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​‘DIY dentistry’ – kit sales surge reflects choices made by government

1 February 2021

 

The British Dental Association has said the surge in sales of DIY dental kits reflect the policies adopted by government since the first lockdown, and stressed the targets imposed on 1 January will be incompatible with addressing the urgent backlog of cases.

 

Boots the chemist has reported sales of at-home dental kits for lost fillings, caps, and crowns are up by 87% in the last three months of 2020, compared with the previous year.

 

Reports of 'DIY dentistry' have been rife since the first lockdown, when all practices in England were shut for face to face care and the network of Urgent Dental Care Centres was dogged by PPE supply problems and restrictive treatment criteria. Practices have operated at low capacity since they reopened in June owing to COVID restrictions, and remain capable of seeing just a fraction of former patient numbers.  While the Welsh Government has set aside ring-fenced funding for ventilation equipment to increase patent throughput, authorities in England are yet to offer commitments.

 

Dentist leaders have warned the perverse activity measures imposed on NHS practices in England will create new barriers to treating patients experiencing urgent problems.

 

MPs have widely criticised the policy for prioritising 'volume over need'. The system makes targets easier to hit through provision of routine care. The BDA has already written an open letter to Matt Hancock following revelations a leading chain has instructed its dentists to focus on routine check-ups over urgent cases in order to meet the target.  

 

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said:

 

"Patients should never have to take matters into their own hands. Sadly, this boom in 'DIY dentistry' directly reflects the choices made by government throughout this pandemic.

 

"In the first lockdown patients in pain were left with few options. Now Ministers have imposed targets that are forcing dentists to prioritise volume over need.  

 

"We need help to restore access for the patients that need us most."