COVID-19 is affecting every aspect of our lives – and, unfortunately, dental care is no exception.
Procedures require very close contact between the dentist and the patient, and many of our high-speed tools create an airborne spray containing the patient’s saliva. This spray can easily spread the virus, which is why UK dental practices have now been told to stop all routine dental treatments.
Here at Kiln Lane Dental, the safety of our patients and staff is paramount. We must do everything we possibly can to halt the spread of the disease and, in line with government guidance, we are now closed until further notice. But that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to help our patients.
These are unprecedented times, and you’re bound to have many questions about dental care and oral health needs during the lockdown. Here we try to answer just a few of these questions.
Can I attend my routine check-up appointment?
Unfortunately, no – this won’t be possible.
COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to 14 days or more. Even if you do not currently have any symptoms, there’s a chance you could still pass the virus on to the dentist and other patients. Therefore, all ‘non-urgent’ routine dental care has now been stopped until further notice.
If you have an appointment scheduled in the next three weeks, don’t worry – this has been cancelled automatically. There’s no need to call us, and you should not attempt to attend the practice. Once the government restrictions have been lifted – and it’s safe for us to resume normal check-ups and treatments – we will be in touch to re-arrange your appointment as soon as possible.
What if I have a dental issue?
We are now only allowed to go outside when it’s absolutely essential. Therefore, if you start to experience a minor dental issue, you should try to manage the problem without leaving your home.
To help reduce mild dental pain, we recommend taking a combination of over-the-counter painkillers, including paracetamol and ibuprofen. Anaesthetic gels can be very helpful. Or, you could try using a basic saltwater rinse. Simply mix half a teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water. Swish the rinse around your mouth for a few seconds and try to hold it over the affected area. Not only will this help to reduce dental bacteria, it will also promote healing and help to ease discomfort.
If your symptoms are severe, you can either call NHS 111 or contact our practice. We are currently operating a telephone triage service, whereby the dentist will listen to your concerns and try to resolve the dental issue by offering advice or by prescribing mild analgesics or antimicrobials.
Emergency dentist appointments are still available for:
– severe and persistent dental pain (that cannot be controlled with painkillers)
– facial swelling
– uncontrollable bleeding
But we are trying to avoid these as much as possible. They will only be offered to patients with urgent dental needs (which cannot be provided remotely) and, to attend the practice, you mustn’t be showing any symptoms of COVID-19 – including a dry, persistent cough or high temperature.
It’s also important to note that, under the new government guidelines, minimal use of ‘spray-producing’ tools (e.g. drills, scalers etc.) has been advised. This means we may be restricted in the treatments that we can offer. But rest assured, if you do attend an emergency appointment, we will do everything we can to help relieve the pain and resolve your dental issue.
How can I look after my teeth during the pandemic?
Good oral hygiene practise is now, arguably, more important than ever.
To reduce the chance of dental issues during the lockdown, it’s vital that you brush and floss twice daily. But remember, never share your toothbrush or dental floss with anyone else in the household, as this is an easy way for the virus to spread. For the same reason, you should also store your toothbrush safely on its own, perhaps using a plastic case to cover the toothbrush head.
For further advice and tips, check out our recent blog ‘How to keep your teeth and mouth healthy’.
Get in touch for emergencies ONLY
In these most unusual circumstances – and with your health and wellbeing in mind – we are urging patients to stay at home and stay safe. However, if you are suffering from severe symptoms and wish to book an appointment with our emergency dentist in St Helens, please feel free to get in touch. Simply give us a call on 01744 25776 and follow the advice.
We appreciate your co-operation during these difficult times and look forward to welcoming you back to Kiln Lane Dental once normality resumes.