(updated 1 January 2023)
Our position on Covid – updated for 2023
While we don’t now see Boris on the TV every evening, flanked by Chris and Patrick, Covid has not exactly gone away. At the time of this update we’re in the fifth wave of the pandemic and we currently have staff absent from work with Covid. Since the summer of 2020, we have begun to understand the virus better and importantly, it appears to have mutated into a more infective but likely less dangerous pathogen. Successful viruses often behave like this as killing your host does little for your own survival! However, we don’t know what the effects of the Chinese U-turn in policy and relatively unrestricted travel out of China will bring.
While many establishments have reverted completely to pre-Covid ways of working, in healthcare we’ve learnt more about the transmission of respiratory viruses and some procedures that we adopted because of the pandemic are now routine. Looking back, it’s possibly a similar scenario to HIV in the 80’s triggering dentists routinely wearing gloves; until then dentistry was largely (and unthinkably!) bare-handed. Guidance for the dental profession rather leaves us to our own devices to risk assess and employ processes and procedures accordingly. At ODental, we have a cohort of patients that include a reasonable number of elderly, vulnerable or extremely vulnerable. We are arguably adopting a more cautious approach than some but all of our post-covid procedures are simply to work in a safer practice and offer a safer service for our patients. 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. We are in a unique situation in dentistry: we get up close to people’s mouths for protracted periods of time; it’s not the same as in the Co-op! And ultimately, everything we have in place is to make things safer.
Many of the procedures we had in place following the first lock-downs have now been relaxed but some remain. And some have been replaced by alternative precautions. The front door remains locked but the waiting area is now in use. Magazines and cappuccinos are back! We’re able to use a lower specification of PPE for many procedures and have introduced Lateral Flow Tests for some procedures (those when we use instruments that generate an aerosol such as ultrasonics). We still all carry out LFT’s twice weekly as we still believe that you probably wouldn’t want a Covid positive dentist, hygienist or nurse breathing over you. We realise that for everyone else, testing has largely become a thing of the past. Face coverings are still required in the practice and since the pre-examination mouthwash has proved so popular, this continues! Collectively, our current measures are doubtlessly offering our patients and staff the best protection we can offer in this stage of the pandemic. We remain vigilant in following the progression of the pandemic and changes in our professional bodies’ guidance. We support the UK vaccine program and encourage its uptake but are mindful of autonomy being the cornerstone of UK medical ethics.
We appreciate that mask-wearing, mouth-washing and answering our screening questions are for some tedious and irritating. We know – we wear masks all day! We steam up too! However, all of the measures we have in place collectively make our practice safer for everyone and we appreciate all of our patients being on the same page as us.