Dental Tribune UK & Ireland

Reopening of dental practices in the UK and Ireland

By Iveta Ramonaite, DTI
May 14, 2020

LONDON, UK: While dental professionals across the world are hoping for the relaxation of lockdown restrictions and are anxious to reopen their dental practices, the UK government has not yet provided clear guidance on when dentists in the country can return to general practice and resume normal service. Similarly, the Irish Dental Association (IDA) is eagerly awaiting a response from its government and is deeply concerned over the impact of COVID-19 crisis on the dental profession in the country.

As part of the lockdown, dental practices in the UK have been closed since 24 March. On 11 May, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a much-anticipated speech in which he briefed the nation on the easing of lockdown restrictions. The speech was met with criticism, since the proposed measures lacked clear guidance. Commenting on the prime minister’s announcement and its implications for dentistry, Chief Executive of the British Dental Association (BDA) Martin Woodrow stated that the existing advice for practices in the four UK countries still applies and that practices will continue to treat patients by providing advice and prescribing analgesics and antibiotics where appropriate. Additionally, dental care will continue to be triaged into different urgent care systems.

“The Office of the CDO [Chief Dental Officer] in England has reinforced the ‘no change yet’ message. Today they have stated: ‘the temporary cessation of routine dentistry addresses the safety of patients and of dental teams as well as supporting the public health measures required to slow community transmission of COVID-19’,” Woodrow wrote in a statement.

“However discussions are taking place across the UK about dentistry emerging from the lockdown. This morning BDA Chair Mick Armstrong and I met with Health Minister Jo Churchill and CDO Sara Hurley and discussed the general approach in England, both for NHS and private practices. On Thursday we have the first meeting of an NHS England group looking at this in more detail,” he continued.

Impact of COVID-19 on dental practices in Ireland

The IDA has previously criticised the government for its lack of support for the dental profession. During a meeting with Minister for Health Simon Harris earlier last week, the IDA voiced its concerns over the impact of the pandemic on the dental profession as a whole and requested financial assistance for dentists. Additionally, the IDA demanded that dentists are supplied with sufficient personal protective equipment and that patients are granted access to the Health Service Executive’s emergency dental centres.

“We made clear to the minister that the dental profession cannot deal with COVID-19 on its own and urgently needs assistance from the state, otherwise we will see the collapse of the two state dental schemes,” said Fintan Hourihan, CEO of the IDA, in a statement. “Oral health has a huge impact on a person’s overall health, and we cannot have a situation whereby numerous dental practices permanently close, meaning dental services are unattainable for many people,” he added.

A recent survey of 329 private dentists in Ireland reported that 86% of practices had had to lay off staff owing to the pandemic, and 87% of the respondents felt that they were unlikely or very unlikely to go back to pre-pandemic levels of service. Approximately 80% of the respondents said that practice closure posed a high or very high risk to the sustainability of their practices. Finally, 93% said that the crisis would lead to a sharp decrease in income and 67% stated that they could only maintain a viable dental practice for three months at most.

42 Comments

  • Sharon says:

    I need the bloody Dentists…..!!!!!!!!!! Sort this out) so many off us will lose teeth which could be saved(((( OPEN up and make it safe for all off us now not later we can’t WAIT !!!!! ((OPEN!!!! Poor children with tooth ache too….((Open your doors let us in………

  • Karl Davis says:

    Is there any indication when dental clinics will reopen

  • Margaret Green says:

    Why must the bar be quite so high for people to be able to get help with dental problems right now . Prescribing antibiotics or analgesics is all very well but most issues wont just go away and will deteriorate further causing huge problems for people…..this situation cannot continue.

  • Y Penny says:

    I have been in agony for two weeks with the only solution being an extraction at one of the emergency hubs. I do not want to loose a tooth because this is the only option I have right now, when it can be saved.
    There’s then the cost after of somehow replacing that tooth.
    Has anybody thought of allowing the dentist to use breathing apparatus, they would then be completely shielded.
    Please, please open up the dentist…I am exhausted from this pain.

  • Sarah Vickers says:

    Is there any indication at all with the dentists reopening. A lot of people are getting desperate. The pain is terrible

  • Tess says:

    My son is now very ill fit to having a wisdom tooth coming through his jawline. He called his dentist emergency line as he is in agony and he was told to call 111. He called 111 and they prescribed antibiotics and pain killers!!!! This hasn’t helped at all as he requires dental surgery
    He’s only 23, it’s impacting his whole life so much that it’s affecting his vision, severe headaches, his ability to do anything because the pain is so bad, please explain why can we not have dentists to help for such emergencies?

  • Fae says:

    Please reopen dentists. I’m in pain but I know my tooth can still be saved. Please don’t let extraction be my only option. I have a phobia of losing my teeth and this is my worst nightmare. Please help.

  • Julie Campbell says:

    I’m praying the dentists will open Asap, There must be Something they can do to protect themselves & us..so many people are suffering including myself. It affects mental well-being also!

  • Irene Hill says:

    I lost one of my front teeth which is part of a bridge over three weeks ago I phoned 14 dentists and a hospital and got told wait for the dentist to reopen how much longer have we got to wait

  • Brent says:

    We really need to know when the dentist will open up again. If schools will go back surely dentits can do the same thing.

  • bridie Cushion says:

    I think dentistry is an essential service and many of us have dental problems including myself.
    The dental health in the country is going to be a mess.
    Please open up ASAP
    My dentist wants to return to work..

  • Susan Damiral says:

    I have a front tooth that’s been in pain for 4 weeks I’ve called my dentist and he gave me antibiotics but they only took some of the pain away now it’s back so called my nhs dentist again to be given another course even tho he said you might have the tooth out being my front tooth I want to save it .it already has a root canal in the tooth so needs rerooting but no one will touch it I called 111but they just said finish the course of tablets to see if it goes if not call them back they are not helping they say it needs rerooting but people are just being told to remove teeth it’s all wrong still in pain back to work tonight after having a week off but still in pain feeling sick with all these meds my private dentist has said they are hoping to reopen if they can get ppe if not then it’s a no go I dont know how much longer I can wait please please open up the dentist so we can save our teeth and be released from this torture and pain 😡😡😡😥😥

  • Anna says:

    Could you please re-open dental clinics as soon as possible! There are lots of people who need urgent dental help! Dentists are very professional people and they know how to protect patients and themselves. Oral health is extremely important!

  • Tony Wilson says:

    It seems to me that patients are getting the run around. The emergency dentists are inadequate to cope with the volume if urgent work needed to be done. So they come up with delaying tactics until it becomes a real emergency. It cannot be right to allow urgent cases to simply wait until they blow up. We don’t have the capacity and the only way forward is to allow dentists to open for this urgent work to be done.

  • Gillian Horrocks says:

    Please get these dentists open . I have an infection under one of my front crowns and need treatment . My dentist said they are good to go . Full PPE, new aerosols , deep cleaned , they want to go back. This isn’t good enough The dental association should be ashamed , it’s barbaric .

  • Sophie says:

    Getting ridiculous now dentists needs to reopen I have lost a crown which is causeing bad pain and apparently it’s not an emergency I’m only 25 and been told I could loss my tooth and need to have an implant this is no far at all you need to be guidance in line so they can reopen!!!

  • Keith James says:

    I add my voice to call for dentists to reopen asap – this is maddness – ive had a toothache for months, eventually got to an emergency hub, all they could do is take out filling kill my tooth and tell me wait a few weeks til dentists reopen, you will need a root canal then (£800-1000 privately with health risks if I can wait) but pain still continues; have an infection starting too that I cant control, pain killers is a waste of time if its an infection and you cant sort out every infection by blasting patient with antibiotics if the problem is the tooth is cracked in the jaw bone

    dentists are protecting themselves not patients – dental surgeries could use PPE, they could screen patients before via phoen for Covid symptoms, they could allow only 1 patient at a time on priority basis, then they could use 30-45 min breaks in between to clean instruments and air room – reducing risk. Dental staff could wear PPE and change between patients – then risk is all on patients side, not dental staff. Patient could take this risk if they want – but believe me anyone in agony with root broken in tooth will take the risk even if it meant getting Covid v staying in pain.

    Sort this out asap – BDA put up some horrific doc following Scotland that dentists wont do procedures until after July 31st — thats an entire nation of 60+ million people left without dentisty for 6 months for so, just because dentists cant get their act togethere – they are already trained in being safe, a few extra changes and they could work at a limited capacity for a few months for most needy patients until corona rates fall further.

  • Carole says:

    I’ve got a broken tooth which is holding my bridge, been in pain 3weeks now and last night abcess which is even more painful and the dental receptionist says it’s not a emergency. In desperate for it to be extracted but the dentist is only allowed 4 extractions a day. She then gave me the wonderful news that’s it will be months before they reopen. Ive work all way through the lockdown but I’m on verge off giving up. At my wit’s end now. Sadistic these government officials and dental chief officer whose playing God.

  • Janine says:

    Please open dentists – I am a key worker and cracked my tooth – my advice yesterday was to break the rest off !!! This advice does not work and it would be very interesting to see if there has been an increase in hospital attendances with Dental issues costing the NHS a fortune. Dental hubs have been opened regionally but I have been in formed you have to be virtually dying which is not good enough. Forgetting my personal problem but I’m concerned about children’s dental health without the possibility for 6 monthly checks, in our region children are the largest reasons for unplanned admissions the cost being astronomical consider this cost if we do not get our dentists opened soon the NHS will not have the capacity or funding to sort out this problem.

  • Emma Nightingale says:

    NHS dentist practices should remain open like all the NHS hospitals that have had to in order to provide a healthcare service.

  • Paula says:

    Feeling pretty annoyed at Keith James comments, I have a family member who is a dentist and is s now financially crippled and depressed and wants to return to work. He doesn’t realise that the cost of ppe to treat one patient could be potentially more than double the NHS remuneration for the procedure. Dentists are self employed and have no employment protection and have had extreme pay cuts and increases in sost over the last 15 years. Also it is not their decision about reopening they are at the mercy of the government like the rest of us. I understand how awful it is for patients in pain at this time but don’t blame it on the dentists.

  • Paula smyth says:

    Feeling pretty annoyed at Keith James comments, I have a family member who is a dentist and is s now financially crippled and depressed and wants to return to work. He doesn’t realise that the cost of ppe to treat one patient could be potentially more than double the NHS remuneration for the procedure. Dentists are self employed and have no employment protection and have had extreme pay cuts and increases in costs over the last 15 years. Also it is not their decision about reopening they are at the mercy of the government like the rest of us. I understand how awful it is for patients in pain at this time but don’t blame it on the dentists.

  • Deborah Aitken says:

    I’m shocked that dentists are still not open. After agonising pain, I found an emergency dentist who could carry out some treatment to relieve pain. I do however need more work but told that can’t be carried out until after lockdown. When will that be? Christmas?????

  • Barbara Nicholls says:

    I always thought dentists were ”health essentials” how come people have to wait all this time without any indication of when dentists can return to work surely there is someone out there who can at least put the wheels in motion
    People having to suffer extreme pain is totally unnecessary I am led to believe that hairdressers maybe back on the 4th July and still no indication when dentists can come back what’s up with the UK priorities seem to be non existent

  • Susanne Bell says:

    Please please reopen dentists I have had yo blend all my food for nearly 2months now due to loose tooth is there anyone out to help sort this out ? Not sure how much longer I can go on

  • V says:

    Please open the dental practices! My child is suffering from infection! I am so tired of calling emergency, what kind of care is that???!!!

  • mona a says:

    The pain is getting worse and there is no sign for reopening dentist

  • Anne Jones says:

    Need a bloody dentist as my toith is giving me jip and need it sorted.Getting fed up of this now

  • Philip St. John Lewis Davies says:

    This absurd and ill-considered banning of a form of medical treatment (dentistry) is of a piece with the official panic-measures which are destroying this country (UK) in all areas of human need. The political class should be arraigned in the highest court of redress for their shameful and gross mismanagement of the country’s welfare. In dentistry (as in the NHS with almost all but coronavirus patients dismissed and neglected) it is playing havoc with our health – and many are still paying into Denplan for the privilege of benefiting from this withdrawal of treatment. I do not want to lose a tooth because no-one can even take the trouble to give me a temporary filling – no drilling therefore no aerosols, surely? And why can no actual dentist be bothered to sit by the phone to give proper professional advice, but I am forced to listen to a mere receptionist telling me I can have an extraction if I go to A&E? I do not wish to lose a tooth I only recently had root-canal work on to save!! The aftermath of this super-flu will see a reckoning; I don’t think life is going to be very pleasant from now on. There will be recriminations and widespread anger. As to my reaction to the dental fiasco: if I lose this tooth I am going to sue for malpractice.

  • Philip Davies says:

    You appear now to be censoring critical comments, despite their being perfectly polite. Mine has certainly been disappeared. This is what our country has come to, is it? A complete collapse of openness,, honest dealing and good faith? I mean to say the invitation for sufferers from a deprivation of dental treatment to complain (in hopes someone in the professional hierarchy might possibly consider effecting a change of policy) is an empty one if simply dismissed out-of-hand. This entire situation is disgusting and unacceptable.

  • Toni Hancock says:

    I am in so much pain with a broken molar.
    I have needed to see a dentist for 5 weeks.
    I have had numerous phone calls from two dentists at my practice. They have been amazing but they cannot see me or even xray me.
    The pain is excruciating and I am awake screaming and crying. I am living on Ibuprofen which are making me ill.
    I have had three lots of antibiotics which on top of the painkillers are making me so bad.
    I can’t cope with the pain and now I have referred pain in some other teeth. I cannot even be referred to a hub. My life is dreadful due to the pain and I can’t sleep. I need help!!’n

    Please review dentists opening ASAP, as in Spain.

  • C Murphy says:

    I have had an infection at the base of an implant on a front tooth since the beginning of lockdown ( I lost the original tooth in a sports accident). I have been in chronic pain for months but my condition is not deemed acute so all that I am given is painkillers and antibiotics which only have short term effects, as well as dangerous to use over such long periods of time. It is a mentally and physically exhausting existence at the moment. My dentist is distraught because he isn’t allowed to sort it out and I am often panic stricken because I don’t know when this situation will end. If you can steam clean an emergency ambulance in 45 mins why can’t you clean a surgery or rotate the patients between rooms whilst they are being cleaned. We have the PPE, we have the cleaning capabilities, we have the dentists and we definitely have the patients. I think what has happened with the lack of action in getting dentists back to work is in utter disgrace, as well as dangerous and cruel.

  • C Murphy says:

    I have had an infection at the base of an implant on a front tooth since the beginning of lockdown ( I lost the original tooth in a sports accident). I have been in chronic pain for months but my condition is not deemed acute so all that I am given is painkillers and antibiotics which only have short term effects, as well as dangerous to use over such long periods of time. It is a mentally and physically exhausting existence at the moment. My dentist is distraught because he isn’t allowed to sort it out and I am often panic stricken because I don’t know when this situation will end. If you can steam clean an emergency ambulance in 45 mins why can’t you clean a surgery or rotate the patients between rooms whilst they are being cleaned. We have the PPE, we have the cleaning capabilities, we have the dentists and we definitely have the patients. I think what has happened with the lack of action in getting dentists back to work is in utter disgrace, as well as dangerous and cruel.

  • UK says:

    Have emailed government the other day about this, know they get lots of emails and prob won’t even see it but, feel like at least I’m doing something.
    Now that covid numbers are dropping, my hope is that the extra PPE can be given to dental practices so that dentists can start to see and treat urgent cases which are not deemed urgent enough by the urgent dental hubs but still causing a lot of pain.
    Of course I want my dentist to be protected and feel safe at work (the government must ensure this), my dentist has been brilliant regarding advising remotely as best can, but to properly get rid of the pain, really need my teeth treated.
    Was meant to go for an appointment in March but was cancelled due to lockdown. I 100% would much rather that nhs non-covid stuff was restarted safely first as opposed to re-opening of non-essential shops. I get that the government want to get the economy back, but not prioritising the remaining NHS work means that so many people are left stuck still, not just dentistry either, people who need to see doctor, people who need blood tests, scans, referrals to hospital consultants, etc. It makes me wonder how many people are going to be severely affected by this further down the line.
    I would much prefer a delay of reopening non-essential shops and in the meantime restart nhs non-covid stuff first. If there’s a second wave of this virus due to the gatherings of people again, it will mean being able to see a dentist or doctor will surely just be put back even further… :/
    Have been eating on 1 side of mouth for a while now and blending what I can but would be great to be able to eat properly again. Scared am going to end up loosing two molars which could have been saved had they been treated, but part of me has kind of just accepted that’s the worst case scenario that could happen and if it happens, then it happens as there’s nothing more I can do other than follow the remote advice from my dentist which includes saltwater rinsing after meals which does seem to get trapped food particles out of teeth (hoping it removes all but if not at least removes some). Have had 1 course of antibiotics prescribed which did reduce pain and it’s now coming back in full force. Do you think I could be prescribed another course? Or would they say no? I know they don’t like giving out antibiotics and I would rather not take them, but if it stops infection and bacteria multiplying then would much rather take them until can have it treated. Currently debating whether to start swishing with corsodyl treatment mouthwash again to try and reduce bacteria myself..:/. Worried about the staining as teeth already stained, but I guess may help bacteria from spreading. Scared it’s going to spread from affected teeth to gums and then spread to other teeth.
    Trying to keep myself calm in the evenings by watching something relaxing and taking each day as it comes but, the more days that go past, the more anxious I’m becoming about getting this all sorted out. Every day it’s all I think about.. :/
    I think this lockdown’s all well if you’re healthy and have no worries healthwise, but if you do it’s horrendous.

  • Heidi Buck says:

    Can I just say as a registered Dental Nurse I totally sympathise with anyone in pain with toothache .. however we as Dental professionals have had NO guidance since the week lockdown began and have to remain closed until we receive further information- Dentistry is MORE dangerous a risk for the transmission of COVID19 than being an ICU nurse !… this is due to aerosol generating procedures ( AGP) and until we can work out a safe way to treat patients Dental Surgeries have to remain closed – there should be local treatment hubs for emergencies?.. also when we do reopen we will be very limited to the amount of patients we can see because of the protocols for letting any aerosols to settle before the surgery can be cleaned- this will in effect mean on average 5 or 6 patients per day .. that , plus the cost of FULL PPE will make it impossible for surgeries to survive .. the UK Government needs to step in urgently to ensure Dental services are saved

  • I have had chronic tooth ache now for 10 weeks been to A&E and was given more painkillers. 10 weeks now I have been on painkillers this cannot be good but hospital said that’s all they can do. I think this is horrendous I’m now addicted to painkillers and still no dentist open.

  • Philip Davies says:

    [My second submission is now redundant – I’m glad to find that there is no censorship on this site, as I had originally feared. Thank-you]

  • Irene Hill says:

    Just heard that dentists have got ppe so why can’t they help all of us who are suffering with our teeth they can open shops but they won’t open dentists what’s wrong with this country

  • Kenneth Jarman says:

    I have been in dental pain and discomfort for 3 months.
    I am now living on pain killers and boots repair kits.
    I have been waiting for root filling treatment from a cancelled April appointment. I think there is every chance this will be cancelled again. I have other teeth that are giving me pain for which I have been give 3 lots of anti biotics.
    I have asked my mp to ask nhs england when dentist will return and they would not give them an answer. I regret NHS England are not fit for purpose and care little or nothing for those in pain both physical and mental, being refused help from a dentist when you are in pain is impossible to accept. The dentists have the ppe, they can test patients for covid before treatment then why are dentists not at work. Am I angry and upset to dam right I am.

  • Agnieszka Morsztyn says:

    I need dentist too, everyday I am checking when they will reopen. I have two problems on two sides. This is ridiculous to leave people without dental help for so many months. Apparently in dental hubs they remove teeth only. In Poland dentist were not available for one month only and reopened on 1st of May.

  • Sharon Baggs says:

    Does anyone know why dentists can’t safely open? Has anyone bothered to find out? If you want to risk contracting or giving your dentist and staff COVID-19, perhaps you should pop along to your local dentist for your filling or extraction, you might get more than you wanted! Google dentist, aerosol. It will explain why. I work at a dentist, I have a hole in my tooth, would I go to a dentist yet? Not on your life!

  • Emma Jones says:

    Dentists are not open because working in the mouth cares a high risk of contracting covid 19,we will then take this home to our families and risk ourselves and, our loved ones lives,, urge t dental care centres are available, and at the end of the day if yuu look after your teeth they will never give you pain, poor brushing and poor diet are the cause of yiur toothache not the dentist being closed

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