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Additional Information relating to NHS recall appointments

Unlike in many other aspects of society (where restrictions have continued to ease since the first lockdown), very little has changed surrounding enhanced restrictions on dentistry. We feel it is important to keep our patients up to date on the current situation regarding their dental care and how things may have changed since before the pandemic.

How will my appointment vary from before the pandemic?

  • When attending your appointment we ask that all patients wear masks when in communal areas (such as reception and waiting room) unless an exemption applies.

  • Social distancing remains in place and patients should only attend the practice for pre-arranged appointments and try to maintain their distance from other patients within the practice.

  • Increased PPE will be worn during appointments with further enhanced PPE required for aerosol generating procedures (AGPs).

  • Many simple treatments will require longer appointments and, subsequently longer waiting times, due to enhanced cleaning measures and PPE worn.

  • We will not be able to provide NHS scale and polishes during check up appointments but this can be booked in with the dental therapist on a private only basis

Can all treatment be done the same way as before lockdown?

It is now possible to provide all treatments that we could before the pandemic but we must still continue to prioritise certain treatments over others. Unfortunately, there are still greatly increased regulations around many routine treatments (mainly AGPs) which make many of these procedures more difficult to provide than before the pandemic. Due to the requirement of maintaining social distancing within the practice in addition to the increased PPE wear, the enhanced cleaning and limitations on the number of surgeries allowed to operate at once - all appointments have had to be lengthened. We have increased the working hours from 8am to 7pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 5pm on Fridays in an attempt to reduce the impact this has for patients however, ultimately, our waiting times remain far longer than pre-pandemic.

As always we will endeavour to provide all necessary treatment, however, due to the nature of the above and changes in the way that we must operate me may delay treatment which is not immediately required. Many simple treatments such as routine scale and polishes or small fillings, which may have been possible to complete in 5 to 10 minutes, will now require at minimum a 30 minute appointment and pre-planning to provide. We therefore must prioritise the most urgent of these treatments until restrictions are lifted.

What is an AGP and why are there restrictions around providing them?

An AGP is an Aerosol Generating Procedure. This refers to any treatment which creates a water spray or aerosol which contains tiny droplets of water that can linger in the air for a long time after the treatment. The reason for restrictions around these treatments is over fear that these droplets could carry the COVID-19 virus within them from the patients saliva. There is very little evidence to support that there is a real risk of infection through dental procedures but everyone’s safety must be a priority and guidance must be followed until otherwise advised.

Why has it taken so long to get people back in after lockdown?

Despite our best efforts and increased working hours, we are still working through the backlog of treatments required during lockdown. We are aware that recalls are overdue and we must take steps towards resuming normal treatment as soon as possible, however, issuing recalls will increase waiting times for appointments. Our challenge has, and will continue to be, striking a balance between providing normal appointments and the subsequent increased wait for high priority treatment. In order to facilitate this we may introduce appointment zoning in order to leave certain appointment slots available for emergencies, recall appointments as well as for our private and plan patients. We hope to be able to count on everyone's continued patience and understanding while we struggle to return to normal.

When will everything go back to normal?

Until all restrictions are lifted for healthcare we do not foresee a return to full normal service any time soon. It is impossible to work at the rate required whilst also allowing extra time for appointments and accommodating fallow time after AGPs (time when the surgery must be left empty after treatment). Once we can do AGPs without the added precautions from COVID-19 we should be able to resume normal service.

Why can’t I get a scale and polish at the time of my NHS recall and is there any other treatment I can’t get done?

Prior to the pandemic we were able to provide scale and polishes during normal recall appointments, however, due to the use of the ultrasonic scaler being classified as an AGP and the added restrictions around these procedures, we are unable to do this without greatly extending appointment times and decreasing the number of patients we are able to see. If you would still like a scale and polish the therapist is available and provides scale and polishes on a private only basis.

What options are there if I would like to book in for a scale and polish?

At present Laura, the therapist, is the only person offering scale and polishes unless a dentist is providing it alongside another treatment which is an AGP. There are currently three options for booking a scale and polish with Laura:

  • Scale and polish using hand instruments - 20 minute appointment and not an AGP. This method of cleaning is less efficient than using the ultrasonic scaler but can be sufficient enough for patients with minimal calculus and staining. Cost £37

  • Scale and polish using the ultrasonic scaler - 20 minute appointment plus 10 minutes fallow time at end of appointment due to being an AGP. Before the pandemic this was the most common technique for scaling teeth which uses a tip that vibrates and causes calculus deposits to break up without damaging the teeth. This is the most efficient method for cleaning the teeth and necessary for patients with more of a build up of calculus on their teeth.Cost £48

  • Airpolish - 30 minute appointment plus 10 minutes fallow time at end of appointment due to being an AGP. Following scaling the teeth with the ultrasonic scaler the air polisher sprays a fine jet against the teeth which is very efficient at removing staining on the teeth which may remain after scaling the teeth giving a whiter smile. Cost £65

If you would like to book in with the therapist along with your exam appointment then specify which one of the three above options you would like when calling to book your appointment. Alternatively, you may also book your hygiene appointment directly online using the following link:

Will I now be able to receive my regular NHS recalls?

We are trying our best to resume normal recalls as soon as possible but this will take some time to get back to normality. We hope that in 6 months we will be in a position to be able to send out all normal recalls but cannot provide any guarantees on this.

What are the options of being seen out with the NHS?

Due to the restrictions to NHS dental treatment during the pandemic we have started to provide two types of private dental plans through Denplan which have been very popular with patients. Our patients on Denplan benefit from priority appointment booking and regular exam and hygiene appointments included. It is an affordable way to budget for private dental treatment along with other benefits such as emergency dental insurance. Plans start for just £10.95 per month. Please see our website for more details or call us for more information.

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