BDA recommends ceasing routine dentistry to help counter coronavirus

The BDA has recommended dental practices cease all routine dentistry in the face of coronavirusDental practices are being advised to stop routine dentistry to help slow down the spread of coronavirus.

The British Dental Association (BDA) is recommending that dentists only operate an advice and emergency service to reduce face-to-face contact.

It urges practices to make telephone advice available during normal working hours, particularly until full emergency provision is in place.

This comes as the chief dental officers for England, Scotland and Wales put forward advice for practices. 

All three advised reducing the amount of routine dental activity, with aerosol generating procedures being reduced where possible.

The BDA recommends that staff wear fitted FFP3 masks if any aerosol generating procedures have to be undertaken.

Maximum protection

Issuing the updates, BDA chief Martin Woodrow said: ‘The purpose of this advice is to give maximum protection to dentists and staff.

‘However, it remains an individual practice decision as to what level of service continues to be provided on the basis of rigorous risk assessment.’

Neel Kothari, of High Street Dental Practice, believes the approach should be treated with caution.

He said: ‘The BDA’s advice goes beyond that set by others. Despite its intention, many will see it as justification for a complete shutdown.

‘At a time like this we as professionals need to ask ourselves, is this sound, evidence-based judgement or a kneejerk reaction?

‘Clearly we do not have access to the high level personal protection equipment used to treat COVID-19 positive or suspected cases. At the same time, the risks of providing emergency care to asymptomatic patients cannot be compared with those fighting on the front lines in hospital settings.’

Reduction in emergency treatment

Additionally, the BDA suggests emergency-only treatment may be deemed appropriate only in particular settings. It warns that temporary practice closure may become necessary.

Mr Kothari added: ‘Unarguably, there are very few ‘true’ emergencies in dentistry. But those that do occur may end up overloading a healthcare system that in some regions is already in crisis.

‘Now more than ever healthcare professionals are gearing up to face a challenge on a scale never been seen before.

‘I personally will be carrying on seeing emergency patients until I am told categorically not to.

‘I fully understand the risks I place myself and my family in. However, I feel bound by a duty of care that I cannot walk away from.’

Last week, the government confirmed dental professionals fall under the category of ‘key workers’. This means they are critical to the COVID-19 response.

As a result, children of dental staff are eligible for education provision if it is not possible for them to be at home.