Experts from across the UK – including The University of Manchester – have carried out a rapid review of evidence to help policy makers decide how to reopen dental services after the Lockdown ends.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the closure or reduction of dental services across the world, attention is now focussed on planning the re-opening and restructuring of dental services.

All the sources investigated by the team emphasised the need to focus on activities that minimise risk to staff, patients and the public but still support high quality clinical care.

While the review does not itself make recommendations for reopening of dental services, its key messages include that most guidance sources recommend patient triage by telephone; some recommend temperature screening at reception, and recommending avoiding aerosol generating procedures (AGPs), if possible.

There are also recommendations on how to reduce the risk of transmission (e.g. use of pre-operative mouthwashes; high volume suction; rubber dam; and Personal Protective Equipment [PPE]) and emphasising the need to focus on activities that minimise risk (to staff/patients/public) but still support high quality clinical care.

The group was led by Professors Jan Clarkson from The University of Manchester and Craig Ramsay from the University of Aberdeen.

Professor Janet Clarkson explained, “There is now an urgent need to map out how dental services are to return to providing wider patient care. Given that we have only really known about COVID-19 for about 120 days, robust evidence to inform how to approach re-opening is scarce or non-existent.

“The same concerns exist across the world and therefore we decided to formally review the recommendations being produced in different countries as a resource for decision makers.”

Professor Ramsay added, “We identified sources from eleven countries and found relevant recommendations fell into five themes: practice preparation, personal protective equipment, management of the clinical area, dental procedures, and cleaning and disinfection.

“The review collates the range of recommendations related to each theme from the various sources identified. I would like to stress that this review is not guidance but, in the absence of robust evidence, it should assist policy and decision makers in producing national guidance for their own settings.”

Jan Clarkson added “Conducting this review has been a hugely collaborative international effort and I am extremely grateful to all those involved for working so hard to complete it in such short time.”


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