As we start the second ‘lockdown’ to slow the spread of Covid-19, we look at whether this will have any impact on our dental services
What felt increasingly likely to happen in the last few weeks has finally done so. We are now just a few days into the second lockdown which is due to end on December 2nd although there is some debate on whether that might be extended. Given that there is now better knowledge in both how to prevent and treat the illness, such as the wearing of masks, it is hoped that a short ‘break’ will be sufficient to bring the numbers back down to a manageable level.
Inevitably, the question of whether this will affect our dental practice arises.
The good news this time around is that it should have minimal impact on the services that we are able to offer at the Cygnet Dental Practice here in Wickford. Unlike the first lockdown, dental practices are able to open this time around. This is good news and will allow us to keep working our way through the backlog of appointments from the first lockdown.
Why can dentists open this time?
Some people might be a little confused about why we can open this time but not before. There are a few possible reasons for this.
Firstly, practices are much better prepared and protected this time. Following our re-opening, a lot of changes have been made to the way that we operate. A combination of better protective PPE, social distancing and even better cleaning procedures now exist. More ‘fallow’ time between patients is now allowed to thoroughly clean the treatment room, meaning that our Wickford practice is now a very low risk place for the spread of Covid.
Secondly, there has been widespread recognition that the closure of dentists the first time around has had a major impact on the nation’s oral health. Although we, and other dentists, have all done our best to treat patients in need of emergency dental treatment since reopening, the reduction in the number of patients we can see each day means that some of you may not have had a check up for longer than your usual six months. Inevitably, this will have meant a deterioration for some people. For example, where a small filling might have been needed, if it hasn’t been detected, it will continue to become larger and may require more extensive treatment when you do see us.
What to do if you need treatment
As we mentioned earlier, we are doing all that we can to see patients who require urgent treatment as fast as we possibly can. If you do find yourself in significant pain or have suffered significant trauma, such as a badly broken tooth, please ring us straight away and explain what has happened. Our receptionists will try to prioritise those most in need.
Some of you might be tempted not to call us if you have a more ‘minor’ issue such as a less troublesome toothache that can be ‘managed’ with painkillers. Whilst we understand that you might be tempted to wait until your next appointment, this is never a good idea and especially with the current delays. A small toothache can quickly develop and become very painful and should be treated as soon as possible. Whilst we will prioritise patients who require urgent treatment, we will also see those in this situation as soon as we can. Please don’t delay seeking treatment, even for ‘minor’ issues.
It is also worth noting that appointments are still available with our hygienist. Whilst you do still need to look after your teeth at home, having a professional clean or ‘scale and polish’ will help you to keep your teeth and gums in good health and reduce the likelihood of you needing to have emergency treatment.
Looking after your teeth
As with the previous lockdown, there are challenges that are likely to arise that could have a negative effect on our teeth and gums. From boredom and ‘comfort’ eating through to getting out of good habits, these changes could potentially lead to dental problems.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is very important. If you don’t have to leave the house to go to work you might get up and think that you will brush your teeth later, and then forget. We recommend that you stick to your usual routine so that you don’t forget to brush them. You should always brush your teeth in the morning and right before you go to bed in order to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. If you don’t floss your teeth currently, this is a good time to start doing so. It isn’t hard to do and a little practice will see you flossing in no time at all.
Beware of falling into the trap of eating too much junk food, and especially those that are high in sugar. If you are spending a lot of time in front of the TV, try to avoid snacking on sweets, chocolates and biscuits and eat more healthily instead. Weight gained now may be hard to get rid of when we return to a semblance of normality and your teeth are likely to suffer as well.
Above all, please don’t be tempted to start smoking again if you have previously managed to stop. The stresses and strains of lockdown may lead to you considering this but please don’t. The effects of smoking will last for a long time and can be a serious threat to your health and also to your teeth and gums. Look to other methods of stress relief instead, to help stay more relaxed during this difficult period.
If you do need to see a dentist for a problem, please do contact us. You can call the Cygnet Dental Practice in Wickford on 01268 733078 or use the online contact form on our website.