Patients are turning to DIY dentistry as the coronavirus lockdown keeps dental practices shut across the country.
Dentists are receiving calls with patients attempting to take out their own teeth or trying to lance their own abscesses. Dentistry.co.uk is hearing stories of patients taking out-of-date antibiotics and even their relatives’ medication in a bid to keep dental pain at bay.
Luke Thorley, practice principal at Royal Wharf Dental in London, believes the problem is a lack of communication.
‘A lot of practitioners don’t know where their nearest urgent dental care centre is,’ Dr Thorley said. ‘They’re unaware where to send their patients.
‘As a private practice, we’ve been given guidelines on what we should and shouldn’t do, for example to only give advice or remotely prescribe antibiotics. But so far I don’t know where the nearest urgent dental care centre is for my patients that may need this service’
‘The closest urgent dental care centre I’ve found that is operational is 12 miles away. That’s not close to my practice. Most of my patients live within 500 yards of the practice.’
Searching for answers
The apparent lack of leadership for the profession and the focus of the authorities on providing support solely for NHS practices has caused Dr Thorley and a number of colleagues, to come together and form the British Association of Private Dentistry (BAPD).
The number one focus of the group is to find a way to safely and effectively provide patient care to those in most need during the current crisis.
Since launching two weeks ago, the group has gained over 6,000 members on Facebook at the time of writing and continues to gather momentum.
‘I think the profession has been galvanised by the same problem – a lack of information or understanding about what we’re supposed to do at this time’ Dr Thorley said.
‘Bigger than that, we all want to help but we don’t know how to help. Everyone worries for their patients. It’s crushing, it’s horrible. We’ve got patients asking if we can help them. We know we could if we just opened our doors. We want to help and are working on potential solutions that will enable us to do so safely and quickly.
‘I think everyone is having a similar issue. They don’t know what to do and the unknown scares people. Everybody is looking for an answer at the moment and there isn’t one.
‘In the absence of an answer, people are coming together via the group to see if we can reach a solution for our patients that we care deeply about.’
British Association of Private Dentistry
The group is welcoming all dentists to join the British Association of Private Dentistry.
Its mission is to represent private dentistry in the UK and to promote excellence in dental care for all patients.
‘Our aim is also to act as a conduit between our members, government and regulators,’ Dr Thorley continues. ‘We want to ensure they hear our voice as a key part of decision making in UK dentistry.
‘The group will then endeavour to share our unique knowledge to support, advance and empower dental professionals. We also hope to deliver choice, excellence and optimal dental care to all patients.’
For further information, visit the British Association of Private Dentistry Facebook group.
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