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This is what dentists will look like during lockdown as some reopen today

Dentists are rushed off their feet to reopen after June 8 in line with the guidance they received last week.

Surgeries across Kent are going to look very different but those in the service reassure patients they are completely safe.

Moshan Ahmad, a BDA spokesman, said: "Practices are not going to be opening or offering services unless they know it is safe for the patients and their staff."
Moshan Ahmad, a BDA spokesman, said: "Practices are not going to be opening or offering services unless they know it is safe for the patients and their staff."

Bupa Dental Care is opening its locations across Kent today with precautions in line with the national standard operating procedures.

Patients will be asked to arrive on time - not too late or early - and alone if possible to make sure there are not too many people in the waiting room at one time.

Sally Stephens, practice manager for Bupa Dental Care Folkestone, said: "Patients will have a pre-screening call the day before their appointment to confirm they don't have any symptoms. Upon entry to the practice, we've got a sanitisation station with alcohol gel and PPE masks for the patients.

"We will be doing two temperature checks on arrival - infrared and under the tongue - for both the staff and patients.

"We have scheduled cleaning throughout the day around appointments in toilets, reception areas, all the communal areas, bannisters and deeper cleaning within the surgery."

Floor markings will help to maintain social distancing within the building and desks will have screens separating staff and patients.

Bupa Folkestone has removed some chairs and blocked off others in the waiting room as well. Other practices will ask patients to wait in their cars before their appointment rather than in waiting rooms.

All dentists will be using enhanced PPE in order to keep patients safe. Specialised respiratory masks designed to keep out infectious aerosols can be difficult to get and must be fit-tested before use.

This can take time, especially as different brands need to be tested multiple times, which may delay certain procedures where this mask is necessary.

With more safety procedures in place, only a limited number of appointments will be available. This means many practices will prioritise their most urgent dental appointments first.

Moshan Ahmad, a national British Dental Association spokesman, said: "Routine care and cosmetic treatment is probably going to be in a delay phase at this stage, as government guidance says to avoid more of what we classify unnecessary treatment."

He also explains different practices will be at different stages of readiness today and may not be open as they were only given notice 10 days ago.

A recent survey from the BDA suggests dentistry will be a 'skeleton service' as two-thirds of surgeries plan to stay closed.

Only a third of practices said they have enough PPE to provide face-to-face care and just 15% report they will be able to offer a full range of treatment today.

Mr Ahmad added: "Because we're so close to the mouth, we're in one of the highest risk professions. We want to make sure our staff are fully protected and make sure they're able to offer services and keep our patients safe as well.


"I understand hospitals have to be the priority when it comes to PPE and there's a massive issue in care homes. But dental practices, unfortunately, find it very challenging to access NHS reserve PPE.

"I know in the last couple of days there has been a large procurement of PPE for NHS dental practices so hopefully we'll be able to access it soon."

Of the BDA survey respondents, 80% say they expect to be open by the end of June.

Mr Ahmed added: "When patients step through into the practice, it is going to look very different.

"I'd like patients to be aware dental practices are used to dealing with the risk of cross-infection and we try our best to run practices on the gold standard. Practices are not going to be opening or offering services unless they know it is safe for the patients and their staff."

Mrs Stephens echoes the spokesman, saying: "I would be very confident the cross-infection standards within a dental practices were extremely high even before covid. All the staff are highly trained and training is constantly repeated. It is a safe place to be."

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