The British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD) is urging the government to change its guidance on PPE and fallow time.
This comes as dental practices in England begin to resume face-to-face care following the release of a new standard operating procedure.
New primary care requirements include social distancing, increased levels of PPE and a fallow period to allow for viral settling in the surgery setting.
Addressed to Public Health England (PHE), the open letter argues the current guidance ‘is having a detrimental effect on the standards of achievable dental care’. It adds that it could have ‘potentially disastrous’ consequences for the profession.
Currently, dental practices are instructed to allow for a 60-minute fallow period following an aerosol generating procedure.
However, the group suggests England is a ‘notable outlier’ when compared to countries of similar population densities and COVID-19 infection numbers.
For example, a fallow period is not required in Spain, Ireland or Belgium. This is despite all three having a higher number of cases per million when compared to the UK.
It argues that the current stresses and pressures are contributing significantly to the mental health burden of the profession.
Significant mental burden
Issues cited include the mental challenge of leaving large numbers of patients in pain, the lack of ongoing professional guidance and the struggle of addressing the ever-growing backlog of patients.
‘Furthermore, the physical act of providing dental care using the level of PPE required is now adding to the already significant mental burden placed on the profession,’ the letter adds.
The group are calling for:
- A reduction in the fallow time to 30 minutes for AGPs and no time for non-AGPs
- A revision of the PPE recommendations to FFP2 masks. Additionally, no requirement to wear a gown if carrying out an AGP.
A full copy of the letter can be read here.
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