We have the opportunity to be world leaders in providing all people with comprehensive healthcare. Many countries provide dental care free at the point of service for children under 18 or 19 years old e.g. Denmark, Finland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. What changes at 19 years old? Don’t we all deserve to have the support needed to keep us healthy and comfortable? Our population is growing in age as well as number. It is well known that preventive dental care is essential later in life to maintain comfort and function.
Everyone deserves healthcare. We have to remove the barriers and put the provisions in place, otherwise the gap widens between people who can pay to be healthier and people who can’t afford to see a doctor, dentists, optician or any healthcare provider. Let’s have a system in place where everyone has the opportunity to be comfortable and free from preventable diseases.
Dealing With Covid-19
In this climate of COVID-19, dentistry as a business is not feasible.
As a matter of urgency, we need Emergency Dental Centres to be set up.
The Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Guidance is an excellent format to base our model on.
- PPE is in short supply. Dental practices are finding it difficult or impossible to acquire PPE of the quality and quantity needed to care for patients safely. Emergency Dental Centres will make most efficient use of available PPE.
- Lack of PPE is only half of the picture. Small Private Dental Practices are not set up to care for patients with the present risk of aerosols transmitting from patient to patient. We need centralised care to allow for more rooms, as well as separate entrances for Covid-19 positive and negative and status unclear patients, with negative pressure rooms and adequate ventilation and air exchange systems.
- Clear guidance is needed from experts who are taking the risks of the unknowns seriously to ensure the safety of all people involved.
- It is crucial that after the COVID-19 pandemic, Emergency Dental Centres continue. We need to have provisions in place so everyone who has a dental emergency can be treated in a safe manner to prevent serious dental emergencies putting extra strain on hospital resources during times of uncertainty.
- Legislation would need to change to allow for patients to be seen in HSE Dental Clinics, or to allow insurance cover for private practices to act as Emergency Dental Centres.
- Oral health care advice should be advertised to the public to help slow or prevent issues from arising. Prevention of disease needs to be invested in. Radio and Television Campaigns and videos on HSE website are important so the public have access to clear and evidence-based advice.