Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed confirmation that NHS dental services will be re-introduced, under Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown.
As of 17 August, dental practices who are suitably prepared will be permitted to provide aerosol generating procedures (AGP) on patients with urgent dental problems from. This includes the use of drills.
Practices have been able to see NHS patients for certain types of non-aerosol routine care as part of Phase 3.
The re-introduction of aerosol generating procedures will be supported by the provision of enhanced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to dental practices which will require to be individually fitted to dental team members to ensure they work effectively.
Dental care remains prioritised for patients in need of urgent care and replicates the arrangements put in place in urgent dental care centres.
Ms Maguire said: “I’m glad that more services will now be able to be provided by NHS Ayrshire and Arran. This will be a relief to residents who have been experiencing discomfort will now be able to visit their local dentist to receive urgently required treatments.
“In addition, it’s a positive development that local practices are able to now expand the range of services they can offer as we continue to gradually move out of lockdown.”
Chief Dental Officer Tom Ferris said:
“NHS patients have been able to receive care and treatment including aerosol generating procedures through one of the 71 urgent dental care centres in Scotland.
“Now a limited range of AGP procedures will be available at NHS practices – this decision has been taken after carefully and thoroughly considering the balance between the overall risk of infection with the needs of patients to be seen by dentists.”
AGPs are defined as any patient care procedure that results in the production of airborne particles, known as aerosols.
These are relevant to the spread of COVID-19 since transmission may occur through both direct air-borne infection and through contact with contaminated surfaces.
In urgent dental care centres dentists and the dental team are provided with enhanced PPE, including face-fitted masks.
Dental practices that wish to provide AGP care to NHS patients will be provided with a similar level of PPE.
The Chief Dental Officer and his team are in regular contact with NHS Boards to ensure dental practices have clear guidance on appropriate procedures for seeing patients. The Scottish Government have also been working closely with BDA (Scotland) in making the necessary preparations.