Evidence gathered from over 2000 practices in England suggests that they majorityof dental practices estimate they will be able to treat less than a quarter of the patient numbers they saw pre-COVID-19
Barely 15% are in a position to offer a full range of treatment, with the capacity to offer aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs), using high-speed instruments, that constitute the majority of activity.
Key drivers include PPE shortages, with only 1/3 of practices having PPE to hand to provide face-to-face care, and only 25% reporting they have been fit tested to use them.
Dentists have also indicated other barriers with a high impact on their plans for reopening, including emerging from cash flow problems (78%), difficulties getting practices ready for social distancing (63%), and access to childcare (40%) – where failure to offer necessary clarity on their key worker status has seen children turned away from schools and nurseries.
While over 60% of practices expect to reopen to some level by the end of June, major constraints will remain on the service.
The BDA has said these grim findings underline the need for support from government. It has called for immediate clarification on key worker status for dental team members, and action on PPE supplies.
Dental practices are among the only businesses on the high street still paying business rates, with even bookmakers receiving rates relief.
“Anyone expecting dentistry to magically return on Monday will find only a skeleton service.
“Ministers must change tack if dentistry is going to survive the new normal.”