Dental public health in action: The covid-19 restrictions on dentistry in England and their impact on access to dental care for high-risk patient groups in the North-East and North Cumbria

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  • Ryan O’Donnell
  • Christopher Vernazza
  • David Landes
  • Zoe Freeman


The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly impacted dental practices with the initial response being a complete suspension of face to face
care unless designated as an urgent care centre. Even with subsequent easing of restrictions, a significant change to the delivery of dental
care is continuing to restrict patient access. The introduction of new Standard Operating Procedures, with a benchmark fallow time of 15
to 30 minutes after aerosol generating procedures, has also reduced capacity levels within dental practices. Triaging systems have been
implemented within practices to ensure those with the highest oral health care needs are prioritised for face to face care. Altered patient
attendance, due to the Covid-19 restrictions placed upon dental care, may also be compounded by patients avoiding dental care due to
personal perceptions of risks associated with Covid-19 or due to a desire not to overburden health systems. With the additional Covid-19
restrictions in place the access to dental care for vulnerable populations may have been even further impacted, there is therefore a concern
that the restrictions may have exacerbated inequalities in oral health for these groups.
Public health competencies illustrated:
Developing and monitoring the quality of dental services, Dental Public Health Intelligence, and Policy and Strategy Development are
illustrated within this project.
Keywords: vulnerable populations, dental health services, covid-19 pandemic, Delivery of dental care

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