British public could be facing an ‘oral health crisis’ as dental treatment backlog persists
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A leading dental professor has expressed concern over the long-term oral health of the nation, one month after dental practices in England were given the green light to re-open.
Professor Phil Taylor, Dean-Elect of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd)’s Faculty of Dental Surgery, says while many dental practices are now seeing patients again, there is still a great deal of worry within the profession around the after effects of closures over recent months.
Professor Taylor said:
“We are now one month on from dental practices in England being allowed to re-open to treat non-emergency patients after the pandemic forced the vast majority of practices to close their doors.
“While it’s fantastic that many practices are now back up and running, there are still significant hurdles to overcome. Dentists are operating at a much lower capacity than pre-COVID due to stringent cleaning measures in between patients, and we know from a survey of our members that only half of those that are open feel they can provide the full range of fillings and hygiene appointments.
“Of course this improved protection is absolutely necessary in order to keep patients safe, but it does mean it will be a long time until dentists can effectively work through the backlog of patients which built up during the peak of the pandemic.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done in convincing patients that it is safe to go to their dental practice for routine check-ups. Many may not feel comfortable in doing so for some time, but we want to emphasise that it shouldn’t be avoided and is perfectly safe to do so. Unfortunately, some of those who do try to get an appointment may be unable to, due to practices’ vastly reduced capacity.”
RCSEd’s Faculty of Dental Surgery recently carried out a survey of its members, which showed that half of dentists believe they have patients who have suffered permanent harm as a result of practice closures, and 87% feel there is a backlog which will cause further long-term deterioration.
Professor Taylor continued:
“We could find ourselves in a situation where oral health in the UK is severely impacted for years to come. The concern is that with this long-term disruption caused by coronavirus, we will begin to see patients not being able to access regular and essential dental care which will inevitably lead to undiagnosed dental disease and particularly oral cancer.
“Since Dental Health Surveys were established in 1968, we’ve seen a considerable improvement in the nation’s dental health. We do not want to reverse the trend and come to a place where dentures and missing teeth are the norm once again."
NOTES TO EDITORS
About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and its Faculty of Dental Surgery:
- Established in 1982, it is the largest of the College's faculties with almost 7,000 Fellows and Members worldwide and its own Council.
- The Dental Faculty's portfolio includes a wide range of exams and courses held in 17 countries around the world.
- Internationally, the Faculty works with the National University of Singapore, the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons, the College of Dental Surgeons of Hong Kong, and the American Board of Oral Medicine.
- RCSEd was first incorporated as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and is based in Edinburgh and Birmingham.
- It is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world with a worldwide membership of 29,600. The majority of our members practice across the UK, with 15,000 professionals based in England and Wales.
- The College also has a significant global presence with members in over 100 countries worldwide.
- The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through education, training and examinations, its liaison with external medical bodies and representation of the modern surgical and dental workforce.
- Find RCSEd here rcsed.ac.uk, on Twitter www.twitter.com/RCSEd, on Facebook www.facebook.com/rcsed and Instagram https://www.instagram.com/RCSEd/
About The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
RCSEd was first incorporated as the Barber Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1505, and is the oldest surgical corporation in the world with memberships approaching 25,000 professionals in over 100 countries worldwide. The College promotes the highest standards of surgical and dental practice through its interest in education, training and examinations, its liaison with external medical bodies and representation of the modern surgical and dental workforce. It is also home to the UK’s only Faculty of Surgical Trainers, open to all those with an interest in surgical training regardless of College affiliation. Find RCSEd on Twitter www.twitter.com/RCSEd and on Facebook www.facebook.com/rcsed
The College is based at Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW and can be reached on (0)131 527 1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In March 2014, a new base opened in Birmingham, catering to the 80% of the College’s UK membership who are based in England and Wales.
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Team on +447467 485145 or email email@example.com
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