During the pandemic, many of you will be a due a trip to the orthodontist or dentist for a routine appointment. The current circumstances mean you might be wondering whether now is an appropriate time to proceed with dental procedures.
We spoke to leading orthodontist, Dr Moira Wong, to find out about the current situation with dental care during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also let us know about the importance of e-Consultation and how she integrates the use of video calls in her private practise.
How is orthodontic and dental care being affected by COVID-19?
The government has recommended orthodontic and dental care should be stopped during the pandemic, this includes treatments such as extraction service and administration. However, e-Consultation for any concerns are available. In dire emergency, patients are being treated in person.
During e-Consultatons, what I’ve been able to, is to assist those with treatments involving turning braces. I’ve been able to supervise patients remotely but this would be different in every practice.
Many of my patients are children so it’s really lovely to see how they’re getting on to ensure that their teeth stay healthy during this time. It’s quite endearing to see how parents and their little ones point at their teeth as I speak to them in real time, via video call to see what’s going on in their mouths.
What counts as emergency/urgent care?
The NHS defines this as bleeding, swelling, infection and where the general infection would threaten the general health of the patient. Analgesics can provide pain relief prior to provision of definitive treatment.
If someone needs an emergency appointment, what should they do?
What would happen is they’d have to go to the 111 NHS triage system. The service would determine if they’re COVID-19 patients or not. Currently there are some centres specifically for COVID-19 cases. The fact is there aren’t enough centres and I think that’s what’s hitting the press at the moment, patients are struggling to access care.
What about orthodontic/braces problems?
There is currently no orthodontic appointments taking place. I’m seeing many of my own patients remotely to progress their treatment, but I don’t know If other clinics are doing it.
Should my child continue wearing their braces during the pandemic?
For my patients, the reason I’m seeing them via e-Consultations is so that if they remove their braces, their teeth could revert back to their original position and it could get rid of a lot of work.
Fixed braces tend to hold to the teeth’s position. However, if they break a fixed brace, teeth will tend to follow of in its own direction. It important this doesn’t happen during lockdown.
How can patients manage dental problems at home, such as toothache or mouth pain?
I think with tooth ache, normally you would ring your dentist to work out if it was caused by the gum or an infection inside the tooth. It’s good to seek advice because a dentist should be able to answer questions if you have some.
As mentioned, analgesics can help. Often antibiotics can be prescribed remotely. If swelling appears and persists after antibiotics then you’d probably need to go to the treatment centre.