Response to Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
This time last year we were working towards a return to full dental services, looking forward to helping all our patients again rather than just taking emergencies. While we have managed to help many patients over the year, once again we need to ask for understanding and support.
Providing access to dental care is still difficult across England. Dentists are facing multiple complications in time management and clinician recruitment due to a combination of the pandemic and Brexit.
For SpaDental patients, current access to care is not the same from one practice to another and can even change daily. Sometimes, we have to delay appointments for routine examinations to make sure patients who need essential treatment can be seen. Please be reassured, however, we will continue to prioritise patients who need urgent care.
Practice status this week
On good weeks, a green smiling face ( ) shows we’re feeling optimistic our scheduled plan should go ahead without any hitches. Of course, we cannot be 100% certain, as staff sometimes have to stay home at short notice.
An amber face ( ) indicates that we’re having to juggle the diary and need to contact patients to change appointments, prioritising those with greater need.
A red face ( ) means we must prioritise patient care for urgent and essential treatment only. We are consulting patient records to triage according to need, and rescheduling appointments on a regular basis.
Keeping in contact
If you, or a dependant, has a booked appointment, please be sure to attend. If you fail to, your wait for another slot will be months.
It is more important than ever, that you contact us to cancel an appointment you cannot attend. Cancelling as soon as possible (a minimum of 24 hours in advance) allows us to invite other patients to take up your appointment slot, freeing diary time later so we can rebook your treatment.
As we may need to contact you to change an appointment, please ensure your contact details for your phone(s) and email are up to date.
These times are challenging for us all, and we really do appreciate the supportive messages we’ve received from patients. We sincerely thank you for your understanding.
Please remember that if you need urgent care, you will be prioritised.
From Monday 19th July, most Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted in England. Dental practices, however, will continue to treat you in a safe environment.
Because a dental practice must be accessible to people who are not vaccinated or are vulnerable, because dentistry is a service most people visit because of need, we will continue to follow the same Covid-19 procedures and use enhanced PPE.
We kindly remind patients to:
- wear a face covering;
- sanitise hands;
- maintain social distance.
We hope all our patients enjoyed a relaxing and happy Easter weekend.
In our practices, we feel very used to procedures we have in place to keep patients and staff well. We are expecting that the way we are working now will be the way we continue for some time more. That is, with periods of empty time in the surgeries between some treatments, enhanced PPE and cleaning, lots of ventilation and minimising visitors to the practices.
We have budgeted these adaptations into our annual fee review. We’re therefore pleased to say that when you make a new appointment, or begin a new treatment plan, we no longer need to add a coronavirus surcharge for private patients.
We have an increasing number of patients who are confidently asking to be seen for treatment. We hope that you’ll be one of them.
As front-line workers, dental staff are in the vanguard of the programme. That said, we are very aware that personal immunity to the virus does not prevent transmission. Our infection control protocols are closely supervised to help keep all our patients safe. If you have been reluctant to visit the dentist for a while but you’re due for an appointment, please get in touch with your practice. Timely preventive care can save you from both unnecessary pain and expense. We look forward to hearing from you!
However, there are important exceptions.
People can leave home to access essential services. You are allowed to visit your dentist.
We encourage you to continue to attend regular dental appointments to maintain your oral health and help detect concerns such as periodontitis and oral cancer early, so treatment is in good time.
SpaDental practices follows rigorous protocols to control infection. Your safety is, as always, our priority.
December – moving out of lockdown into tiered restrictions
Patients are able to access the dental care they need. Of course, strict protocols are still in place so some procedures are not quite the same as before. For example, hygiene appointments that create an aerosol effect are restricted, but hand-scaling is back! One of our hygiene team explains:
We’re looking forward to the holiday season, even if it will be quieter than usual. If you’re shopping for gifts for the upcoming holiday season, don’t rule out gifts related to oral health. They’re very useful, and range from quite expensive to great stocking fillers.
November – we’re still open!
While England stays at home from 5th November, this time dentists will still be open. Our dental practices have rigorous operating procedures in place to control the spread of Covid-19 and to keep you safe. We continue to offer telephone consultations and face-to-face care.
Now the clocks have gone back and we’re looking at the shorter days of winter, we’re beginning to reflect on the year we’ve had. It’s one we’ll all remember. For dentists, we’re glad to be seeing patients again. We very much hope that people who struggled with discomfort or even pain during the months of lockdown are feeling more comfortable and at ease. As you know, modern dentists are always championing preventive care. We’re keen that people keep up regular visits to the dentist and the hygienist. One way of doing that is to become a SpaDental Plan patient. This helps you to schedule regular dental appointments at the same time as you spread the cost over the year.
Read this excellent article from the BBC explaining COVID-19 Symptoms – what to look out for, how to take an accurate temperature reading, and which symptoms could be flu or a cold. It’s well worth a read.
September – Offering our full range of treatments
We have been welcoming lots of patients back into the practices and are offering a full range of treatments. Some of our treatments are modified, however, to keep both patients and staff safe. For example, we are using hand-scaling tools during routine hygiene appointments.
August – Why dental fees need to have an additional surcharge
During July, our dentists have been offering a wider range of services to patients. During this time, we have thoroughly reviewed the additional cost of providing dentistry. We have introduced a tiered surcharge so patients make a contribution to the additional expenses. By adding a surcharge, treatment costs are transparent and the COVID-19 surcharge is differentiated.
29th June – A warning about hand sanitiser from the NHS
There is concern that hand sanitiser left in cars causes fire. When overheated, it releases flammable vapours that can reach a flashpoint and ignite. Although hand sanitiser is a useful and convenient alternative to hand-washing, advise is not to leave it in your car. Why not keep a small bottle on your keychain, in your bag or pocket, and fill it up from a larger bottle kept in a cool place at home?
June 15th – Now some SpaDental practices are open for limited urgent care in person, some patients are attending appointments with their dental team. This short presentation offers guidelines so you’ll know what to expect.
From June 8th, SpaDental begins the first phase of our return to service.
Access to dental care will take a while to resume full services to protect patients and staff.
We’ll keep you updated here with news and developments.
Why did dentists close during the coronavirus pandemic?
As part of the essential need to protect people from contracting Covid-19, the government made the decision to close down practices and open dedicated Urgent Dental Care Hubs. Because of the very nature of dentistry, because patients and dental clinicians are in such close contact, the government considered it necessary to restrict dental treatment to urgent and emergency care only, in specially equipped centres.
What can I do if I have a dental problem during the lockdown?
We are receiving calls and messages from patients who are experiencing dental pain and we’re sorry not to be able to offer you face-to-face treatment ourselves. So that we can help our patients, and other people too, we operate a remote advice and referral service so we can help patients either manage the problem at home, or access the care they need. As our philosophy is to always help patients feel comfortable, the last thing we want is for you to be suffering without the treatment you need. Please be aware, however, that there is a high demand for service in an Urgent Care Hub, so referrals are triaged according to level of need.
- More about Urgent Dental Care Hubs
- Urgent, emergency and routine dental treatment – the differences explained
- What to expect from remote dental triage
What’s the risk of coronavirus infection during dental care?
To carry out dental treatments, scaling or fillings for example, the dentist or hygienist uses high speed tools. The procedures generate spray that could carry the coronavirus and spread to the clinician. Although dental practices meticulously contain cross-contamination, this particular virus is highly contagious. Particularly during treatments that generate an aerosol effect, there is a risk that the virus can transfer from one patient to another. Moreover, to add to the risk, the symptoms of Covid-19 take seven days after infection to become evident. In some cases symptoms are so mild, people don’t even realise they’re ill. This means that a patient could possibly infect both the dentist and the nurse, who could then infect other patients too. The Urgent Dental Care Hubs that are opening around the country have the essential personal protection equipment (PPE) and procedures in place. They are well equipped to treat patients in a risk-controlled environment. At this time, until the danger of coronavirus passes, all routine dental treatments are on hold.
To access urgent and emergency care:
Either follow this link, call your SpaDental practice or 01962 798270 if you do not have symptoms and do not suspect you may carry Covid-19. The SpaDental clinical team will triage your dental concerns and inform you of your options.
Urgent and emergency referrals – important notes
1 – If your dental problem cannot be managed in any other way and surgical treatment is essential, the team will refer you to an Urgent Dental Care Hub. 2 – If you are referred, please let the clinician know which of the centres is closest to you. They will attempt to refer you to that centre. 3 – If you believe or know you have COVID-19 and have a dental emergency, please go online to NHS 111. Call 111 if you cannot access the service online.
People also ask: