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COVID and Dentistry

Posted By Dr Jolvin Lee  
20:05 PM

Dear All,

I really liked how our Dental Association's President summed up how COVID Lockdowns can affect the Dental Industry and Your teeth!

"Since our last COVID-19 member update, we have continued to work hard to convince the Victorian Government to relax dental restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne. In our advocacy to the Health Minister, Chief Health Officer and Department of Health we have emphasised:

  • The current restrictions on dentistry are disproportionate to other areas of health – for example allied health can provide essential clinical care (essential isn’t defined) but dentists can only provide urgent care within a narrowly defined scope
  • Dentists are having to turn away many patients who need essential clinical care but do not meet the ‘urgent’ criteria
  • As the lockdown continues this is leading to more problems as oral health conditions deteriorate over time
  • The impact on patients is not a short term issue of only a few weeks in lockdown, but the cumulative effects of restrictions over the past 15 months
  • Patients who have had their appointments cancelled over the past two weeks are not able to make a new appointment for up to two months because practices are still working through the backlog of care that was deferred or delayed over the past 15 months
  • For some patients, this means that the treatment outcomes could tip from needing a simple filling to a root canal or extraction as their condition deteriorates – a significantly worse outcome
  • Despite the suggestions of a high risk in dentistry, the evidence in Victoria (and internationally) has not indicated this, with only two cases of supposed patient-dentist transmission in Victoria over the past 15 months and no indication that these occurred as a result of dental treatment. This is significantly lower than other health professions
  • A range of risk mitigation measures are available to dentists (rubber dam, pre-procedural mouth rinse and high volume evacuation) that are not available in other health care settings
  • Aerosols generated during dental procedures are different to aerosols of concern related to COVID-19 (given that they are predominantly water generated from dental handpieces, and are also mitigated as noted by rubber dam and high speed evacuation).

Whilst we accept that we are dealing with new variants of concern that may increase the risk of transmission, this must be balanced by the risk to patients of poorer health outcomes due to ongoing restrictions that prevent access to essential health care. We will continue our advocacy efforts to ensure that dentistry can reopen in a safe manner"

*Excerpt from the Dental Association 8/6/21

Stay safe!

Dr Jolvin Lee

Tooth Heaven