Covid 19 and Dentistry

Following the government shut down of dentistry in March, our Ipswich practice was appointed one of the two Urgent Care Centres in Suffolk.

The reception and nursing staff remained at the practice answering enquiries from our own patients and the dentists volunteered to help triage patients from the whole of the East of England, an area the size of Wales with double the population, with Paul leading the Suffolk team of 14 dentists covering the whole region on a Rota basis.

Referrals were forwarded to sites, such as ours in Ipswich for treatment, involving the ‘high risk’ aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) which are such an integral part of clinical dentistry.

We were referred patients with severe emergencies from Suffolk and North Essex, who were treated expediently, by our own staff and other volunteers from other practices.

We have been one of the few practices that have remained open throughout the pandemic. It is reassuring to note that the cross-infection protocols which we always follow, and the additional PPE and procedures which we have been required to implement have resulted in the practice remaining ‘Covid free’.

We remain a UDC and have worked through the backlog of our own patients who experienced more minor emergencies than those treated during the height of the pandemic.

We are now at the point that we will begin to get back to a more normal practice situation.

More normal, but not normal.

The waiting rooms and WCs are not in use for patients.

The current guidance requires the ‘fallow time’ in a surgery to be between 30-60 minutes between patients. This means that rather than the normal 30 or so patients that would normally see in each surgery every day, we can currently see around 8 with each team working between two surgery rooms.

We are fitting air extraction systems to reduce this fallow time and therefore allow us to increase our capacity back to as near a pre-Covid level as possible.