Thousands of people in England are potentially unable to access emergency dental services following the coronavirus pandemic.
The British Dental Association (BDA) told the BBC that dentists in England are bombarded with calls from patients with real pain, but there is often nowhere to send them.
What is the problem in England?
At present, all routine dental care has ceased. On March 20, a letter was sent by the chief dentist of England asking offices to “drastically reduce the number of routine checkups”.
Five days later, the practices were told to stop all routine treatment “until further notice.” The decision was made to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
For patients with emergency dental problems, the NHS England is establishing local emergency dental care centers (CDUs) across the country.
However, the BDA says that only a small number of these sites have been set up so far.
CDUs are designed to provide care to people with urgent and urgent dental problems, after a referral from their local practice. They are intended to provide treatment to patients with symptoms such as:
- Fractured teeth
- Post-extraction bleeding
- Swelling of the face
- Gums and other soft tissue infections
The CDUs are also intended to receive patients with and without symptoms of Covid-19.
Some hospitals offer emergency appointments for dental patients, which means that treatment is always available. The NHS also says that some surgeries will offer short-term appointments.
However, a number of patients have told the BBC that they have difficulty accessing any local service, despite constant pain.
NHS England was contacted several times for a response, but was unable to provide comments.
How many people are not treated?
The BDA says it cannot give an exact figure.
However, he said that almost every practice receives an emergency call every day and that a large number of cases are not handled.
He says that if certain conditions are not treated, such as an abscess, they could potentially develop into life-threatening situations.
The organization says it has already expressed “deep concern” to the NHS England about the current situation.
She believes that some of the problems encountered in setting up CDUs are due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.
What happens if you need to see a dentist?
First, patients are advised to call their local office.
If symptoms are severe, local dentists can prescribe medications over the phone (such as pain relievers and antibiotics). In such cases, dentists can contact local pharmacies, who can then prepare medication for the patients to pick up.
However, a number of patients cannot be seen for emergency appointments as most offices will not see patients face to face.
In these circumstances – or if a patient is not registered with a dentist – then the advice is to use the online service 111.
“It’s scary not to know”
Kathryn Hey, 47, is a teacher in Biddulph, Staffordshire.
She told the BBC that she woke up with sudden sharp pain last Thursday. Ms. Hey thinks she has lost fillings or is developing an abscess.
“I spoke to my local dentist twice, but was told they would only see me if my face was swollen,” she told the BBC.
“I did a lot of research on the Internet; I had to look at 20 local dentists. But they all say the same thing – unless my face is swollen, they won’t see me. “
Ms. Hey says she was able to manage the pain with prescription pain relievers.
“It is up to me to self-diagnose, which is not acceptable.
“It is scary not knowing if I have an abscess and what the long term implications are.
“I just have to manage the pain myself. “
What about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
The BDA says that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland appear to be much more advanced in the establishment and operation of UDC centers compared to England.
- The Scottish government says its dental offices can offer advice over the phone. However, when urgent or emergency dental care is needed, he indicates that dental care centers are available in all NHS councils across Scotland.
- The Welsh government has established 15 UDC centers across the country. The government says that patients should contact their local dentist first. In an emergency, the advice is to call 111. If the pain is unmanageable, the Welsh government says emergency centers should be able to handle referrals.
- The Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Board has stated that emergency dental clinics are being established in the country’s five health and social service trusts. He says these clinics will only see patients with urgent needs, and after a referral from a local dentist