08 Jun Jon Cartu Imply: Coronavirus: Dentists plea to reopen surgeries in Wales
Dental health in Wales faces an “impending disaster” unless surgeries reopen, a dentist has warned in a letter to the First Minister.
Cardiff dentist Dr Charlie Stephanakis said his plea on behalf of about 500 Welsh colleagues reflected mounting concerns for patients.
Dentists in England have been told they can begin reopening their surgeries from today.
In Wales, a phased approach is been taken, starting in July.
Patients will then be able to be assessed for urgent care at their practices.
However, those requiring invasive procedures such as high-speed drilling will still be referred to specialist ‘Urgent Dental Care’ centres.
Under the phased guidelines set out by Wales chief dental officer, Colette Bridgman, routine assessments and care will only be reinstated between January and March 2021.
But in his open letter to Mark Drakeford, Dr Stephanakis said without action “we are facing the long term degradation of the oral health of the population of Wales”.
The dentist said keeping surgeries closed following the coronavirus lockdown in Wales had led to several issues, including:
- An increase in patients with untreated acute dental problems
- An increase of urgent dental related hospital admissions
- Loss of teeth due to uncontrolled chronic disease, decline in dental health and mental health issues
He has called for urgent meetings with the Welsh Government to seek a way forward.
The British Dental Association, which represents the health sector, said there was a “great, growing demand” for swifter action before 2021.
But the chief dental officer said the Welsh Government was “absolutely alive” to the concerns of her colleagues and timelines would be kept under constant review.
According to Dr Bridgeman, dental practices have already been working to offer advice remotely, along with pain relief and antibiotic treatment.
A further 4,000 patients have been seen in the urgent dental care clinics.
“We are very grateful to everyone who has been waiting for treatment during lockdown and will do our best to ensure everyone is treated as soon as it is possible to do so safely,” said Dr Bridgeman.
“Please continue to be patient and to enable those with the greatest needs to be treated first.”