Our position on Covid – updated for 2024

It seems a very long time ago when we saw Boris on the TV every evening, flanked by Chris and Patrick. It’s even starting to seem a long time since Boris was the prime minister. We know now that while Boris was telling us what the rules were, he was in fact breaking them himself, was fined by the Metropolitan Police, and ultimately Partygate partly led to his resignation. At the time of this update, the inquiry is ongoing and its beginning to look like his vacillating actions were at best frustrating for his advisers and possibly ‘mad and dangerous’, the words of the head of the civil service.

Since 2020 we have learnt much more about how we, as a nation, responded to the pandemic, what we got right and what we didn’t. We’re beginning to appreciate better ‘Long Covid’, thought to affect some 65 million individuals worldwide. We know that a few of them are patients at ODental, one or two with significant multi-organ damage and persistent symptoms. Many patients becoming infected are often not even aware they are infected; others are really quite poorly. Fortunately, since the virus has mutated, fewer die. However, at ODental we have a cohort of patients that include a reasonable number of elderly, vulnerable or extremely vulnerable. We’ve largely stopped testing for Covid. We’ve therefore largely stopped counting cases, we’re not even counting waves! However, it’s indisputable that Covid has not gone away. Of the six of us, five of us were infected in the autumn. The week before last, two of our patients, while asymptomatic, tested positive in the practice.

We appreciate that many places of work take the view that it’s OK to be at work. And most establishments take the view that you can ‘Come on in!’ your Covid status being of no interest. However, our position is that dentistry is unique in many ways: we get up close to people’s mouths for protracted periods of time; quite often we generate aerosols that whip around mouths liberating respiratory pathogens into the immediate vicinity. We therefore make no apology for taking a different to stance to the pub, the Co-op or even the medical practice. We feel that if we were patients ourselves, we would really rather the staff didn’t have Covid. And if we’re carrying out treatment with aerosols, we would really rather our patients didn’t have Covid. We are therefore continuing with some of the processes and procedures that are now part of our ‘post-Covid’ way of working. All of us are testing twice weekly, and we’re still testing patients prior to aerosol-generating procedures. We understand that some of our procedures might appear to be misaligned with procedures elsewhere; while we’ve had our critics, we believe our procedures are balanced and proportionate. Ultimately, everything we have in place is to make things safer. Exactly what to expect will constantly be updated and we’re offering up to date advice with every appointment confirmation.

We appreciate that many of our patients are finding our screening questions and mask-wearing tedious. We know – we wear masks all day! We steam up too! And for anyone who’s read this far, wondering what the latest news is on the mouthwash, we’re pleased to report that we’re getting overwhelmingly positive feedback about the new, improved flavour!