As you may be aware, Brightside Dental is re-opening for patient appointments from Monday 15th June. We have not been closed, as such during the past 3 months as we have provided advice to hundreds of people on the phone and via video calls during this time.
Many people talk about a “new normal”, however currently in dentistry there is no clear sign of what normal will be. What we do know, is we can’t work the way we did 3 months ago for the foreseeable future.
To put the situation into context, we were ordered to close our practices in March without any prior warning and then our re-opening was announced on BBC news with none of the dental profession having been informed. Since then we have had very varied and conflicting information from our regulators, so much so to the point of receiving an email from the NHS yesterday evening that went against their previous advice. I am not looking to blame anyone, as this situation is unprecedented, however as a profession we feel we have been severely let down and when the guidelines and goalposts keep changing, along with threats of being reported to the General Dental Council, it is very challenging to make plans for the practice.
At Brightside, we are doing our best to ensure we meet regulatory guidelines and our top priority as always is the safety of our patients and team members. Dental practices have always met very high standards for infection control and we have taken additional measures in line with Covid-19. I believe a dental practice is one of safest environments to be in, however there are certain procedures we carry out which may increase risks, which are discussed below.
There are significant changes to the way we will be working and will be modified on an ongoing basis. Initially, we are planning appointments until the end of June. Priorities will be for those in pain and with dental problems and patients that were partway through treatment with us.
In line with social distancing and limiting the number of patients in the practice, along with increased disinfection measures, initially we will be able to see around 25-30% of patient numbers we were previously and will be able to use 2 of our 4 treatment rooms.
We are currently unable to carry out aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) as these are potentially higher risk for spreading Covid-19 and also because we don’t have all the personal protective equipment (PPE) we need to carry out these procedures. We have been sourcing PPE for weeks, however there are significant shortages throughout the country and having only recently received guidance on what we do and don’t need, many items we need are on back order with suppliers.
Many patients have enquired about hygienist treatment, which we are pleased to say we can offer. Please note for the foreseeable future, hygienist treatment will be carried out using hand instruments and not ultrasonic scalers or airflow for stain removal as these create AGPs. Are hygienists are fully trained in working this way and we have invested in significant equipment for them to be able to work. Treatment provided this way is more labour intensive for the hygienist so we will be booking longer appointments for you and the hygienist will be assisted by a dental nurse to improve efficiency for you. This will mean less appointments will be available each day.
Examples of what we can provide:
- Emergency advice and treatment such as temporary fillings and refining crowns temporarily
- Denture treatment
- New patient and existing oral health assessments
- Routine extractions
- Teeth whitening
- Orthodontic treatment (with some limitations)
- Hygienist treatment with hand scaling
Examples of what we can’t currently provide:
- AGPs such as fillings, crowns, root canals, dental implant placement, surgical extractions
- Ultrasonic scaling and airflow for hygiene
- Surgical extractions
We do still offer the option of a telephone or video consultation where possible in order for you to avoid having to come to the practice if possible.
We have limited appointments overall and these are allocated between NHS and Private patients. There will not currently be appointments available under the NHS for new patients to the practice or those who have not seen us in over 2 years (we may be able to offer private options) as we feel we need to give priority to our existing patients.
I am not asking for you sympathy towards dentists, however I hope this makes you understand why you may not be able to have an immediate appointment with us. Please bear with us and I request that you be kind and considerate to our team members as they are under huge amounts of pressure and are all doing the best they can for our patients.
If you are unsure about whether an appointment would be appropriate, please contact us and we can advise accordingly.
Thank you very much for your patience and understanding.