How to take better care of your teeth - I
November 26 2020 12:26 AM
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By Elle Hunt /The Guardian

For many of us, the routine trip to the dentist is just one of the ways in which our lives have been disrupted in 2020. The British Dental Association (BDA) estimates that, since the March lockdown, dentists in England have provided nearly 19mn fewer treatments than in the same period last year.
What do you need to know about dental emergencies, and what more can you do to care for your teeth? We asked the experts.


What dentistry services are currently available?
Although some routine dental treatments are now available again, in the UK, surgeries’ operating capacity has been reduced and some are triaging patients according to their level of need and risk.
If you would like to see your dentist, it is advisable to contact them by phone or e-mail to see if it is necessary for you to visit. For up-to-date advice on accessing dental care in the UK, see the NHS website.


What is the risk of catching coronavirus at the dentist?
Although they are assumed to be at high risk of contracting Covid-19, a recent study of nearly 2,200 US dentists found that fewer than 1% tested positive in June. Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the BDA, says dentists’ routine attention to infection control puts them at an advantage. “It’s almost second nature to us.”
A heightened potential risk of coronavirus transmission is in the use of instruments such as dental drills or ultrasonic scalers, which create a fine mist.


How are dentists adapting?
The profession is still adapting its procedures as more becomes known about how the virus spreads. For example, some dentists have switched to handheld tools that are slower, but create less spray. “Everything’s a bit of a compromise,” says Walmsley.
Access to services is improving. In England, the “fallow time” during which a treatment room must remain empty after any aerosol-generating procedure was recently reduced from an hour to 15-20 minutes (depending on ventilation), enabling dentists to see more patients.



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