Lockdown, which heralded the temporary closure of dental clinics, can be blamed for the nationwide decline in oral health. What’s worse now, is that upon re-opening, they have become overwhelmed with patients needing treatment.
Cavities had gone undetected for the best part of a year, thus wreaking havoc on the nation’s teeth. Patients turned up to their first appointments with decay, terrible abscesses, and ulcerations from botched temporary fillings. With oral hygiene routines being interrupted during lockdown, many people ended up experiencing infections and excruciating toothache. Some even resorted to desperate measures, such as extracting their own teeth! The surge in ‘DIY dentistry’ has caused a spike in hospital emergencies and near-death escapes. Many diseases of the mouth were undiagnosed during lockdown, thus further damaging the country’s teeth.
Currently, there is a two-year delay for dental surgery and waiting times have doubled. This year, you could be justified in feeling anxious about going to the dentist. In January 2022, the NHS increased targets to 85% which many dentists say is putting them under unbearable pressure, while they are struggling to cope with the threat of Covid and an already demanding job. The increase means that dental professionals have to achieve 8000 UDA’s (Units of Dental Activity) per week. One dental surgeon, calls the new targets ‘irresponsible’ and ‘virtually impossible’. As a result, many dentists are thinking of leaving the profession. Pre-Covid, many dentists were working 5 days a week and seeing 30 plus patients a day. The new more stringent conditions are enough to send any dentist over the edge, as they desperately try to meet the required quota, whilst juggling PPE requirements, and social distancing rules. One wonders if dentists’ waiting rooms will remain suitably organised in order for patients to be socially distanced, or whether they will be overcrowded to maximise the number of appointments.
Patients are fearful of their dental surgeries becoming hotbeds of delta and omicron variants of Covid19. Dental workers themselves are at a high risk of exposure to Covid – an airborne virus which has chosen the oral and nasal membranes as its routes of transmission. Could stress lead to a mass exodus of dentists or gross negligence in practices? You can imagine, either way, your teeth will bear the brunt.
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