What does the new NHS infection prevention guidance mean for dentistry?
New infection control guidance has been issued for healthcare settings in the UK, including dental practices.
In the latest information from the NHS and Public Health England (PHE), dentistry has been labelled a ‘medium-risk pathway’ in the face of COVID-19.
Definitions of this area are any care facility where:
- Triaged/clinically assessed individuals are asymptomatic and are waiting a COVID-19 test result with no known recent COVID-19 contact
- Testing is not required or feasible on asymptomatic individuals and infectious status is unknown
- Asymptomatic individuals decline testing.
Other examples of ‘medium-risk pathways’ include GP surgeries, non-elective admissions, primary care facilities and care homes.
Same PPE guidance
Additionally, the personal protective equipment (PPE) requirement for staff in high and medium-risk pathways has not changed. An FFP3 or hood should still be worn by dental professionals carrying out AGPs.
Requirements for environmental cleaning and disinfection include:
- Increased frequency of decontamination for all reusable non-invasive care equipment when used in isolation areas
- A risk assessment for the use of fans
- Routine cleaning must be carried out using a combined detergent/disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine. Alternatively, a general-purpose neutral detergent in a solution of warm water following by a disinfectant solution of 1,000ppm
- Reusable equipment (such as mop handles, buckets) must be decontaminated after use. Additionally, teams must use a chlorine-based disinfectant or locally agreed disinfectant.
This comes as the British Dental Association (BDA) estimates a 10 million-strong backlog of dental appointments following lockdown.
As a result, it predicts it could take months or even years to reduce the figure.
‘It’s a struggle dealing with the backlog, let alone new cases,’ said Mick Armstrong, BDA chair.
‘Ministers must ensure this does not become the new normal.’
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