Will dentists stay open in a pandemic? What it means for appointments

Dental Practices & COVID-19

With dentists not being able to open during the first national lockdown and permitted to do so following strict guidelines in the second, it can be difficult to discern whether dental offices are safe to open during a pandemic and what the future of appointments will look like. 

For many patients across the country not knowing whether dentists will remain open has been a big area of concern for those in need of urgent dental work.

During the first nationwide lockdown, dentists were forced to close for three months other than for medical emergencies, however, any cosmetic treatments were not allowed to take place.

However, during the second lockdown, dental practices were permitted to remain open and define all their activity with the CQC or GDC.

Through the first lockdown, there was a lack of guidance from professional bodies who closed the dentists down.

However, when dentists reopened in June they saw first-hand the aftermath of this – patients in pain, small problems turning into bigger emergencies, infections and untreated fillings.

As all cosmetic work came to a halt too, patient’s mental health and confidence had been severely impacted, which saw the change of dental practice being allowed to remain open during the second national lockdown.

So, what will dental appointments look like for the next year and how will dental services change?

Is it safe to visit the dentist during a pandemic?

Dentists undergo strict measures to ensure patient and dental staff safety.

They are required to:

  • Wear face masks from the moment they enter the clinic to the time they leave
  • Temperature checked every morning
  • Wear full PPE during treatments
  • 15-30 minute breaks between appointments to allow rooms to ventilated with an air extraction device when aerosol treatments (drilling) have been carried out

Dental officers are just as safe as any other medical environment and proper precautions are being taken to meet this standard.

Cosmetic work, PPE & temperature checks

Under the new and current Government guidelines, existing and new appointments are permitted, which means all cosmetic work can progress as usual with no need to cancel or prolong your dental treatment, regardless if it is for cosmetic or medical work. 

teeth whitening servicesThe only changes to these appointments will see patients going through necessary COVID checks and contributing to any additional admin work ahead of their appointments.

You can expect to fill out a Covid questionnaire 72 hours prior to your appointment – failure to fill this out may result in your appointment being cancelled.

Upon your arrival, you will then be temperature checked and asked to use hand sanitiser.

It is important when attending your appointments to do so promptly to avoid bumping into any other patients in the practice or check-in desk.

We hope here that with the measures taking place that patients feel more comfortable that there are strict measures in place that are there to protect their health and safety.

It’s not only cosmetic dentistry that has seen an increase in demand.

As more people spend time at home, they are not only looking to enhance aesthetics but improve the oral foundation. 

The main priority for our dentists has been balancing the work and taking care of immediate dental concerns as well as offering bigger reconstructive surgeries once again.

Under the new measures and circumstances, patient appointment times are expected to be more spread out and the number of patients limited.

This has made our cosmetic procedures become even more exclusive, and thus again, increasing the demand.

The Perfect Smile is lucky to have three conventionally located practices, which means we can treat a wide mix of patients.

With a big team of specialist cosmetic dentists as well as general private dentists, we have the capacity to treat patients quickly and efficiently whilst still adhering to guidelines safely.

Digital consultations

Believe it or not, during lockdown many practices across the country including our own, had seen a spike in interest in cosmetic dental procedures.

Now being called the ‘Zoom Boom’, some have claimed that this is a result of more people taking the time to notice their appearance.

On top of this, as events and holidays were cancelled many have the disposable income to spend on alternative vices.

When people are at home bored, they are choosing to spend money online, which has led to an increase in cosmetic dentistry searches and enquiries.

Here at the Perfect Smile, we adapted very quickly to virtual consultations, which has been effective in communicating with patients one-on-one on how these treatments can benefit their oral health and aesthetics.

Treatments like teeth straightening, veneers, crowns and teeth whitening have been the most popular.

With time being spent off work and in the house, many patients saw this as a perfect opportunity to undertake tooth straightening systems like Invisalign and CFast.

It has also been discovered that many patients prefer virtual consultations over Zoom as it offers them better flexibility and means they do not have to leave the comfort of their own homes.