/ Health

Have you needed dental care during lockdown?

With dentists being forced to close and routine appointments cancelled, has a lack of access to dental care affected you?

All routine dental care has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, and 68% of Which? members we surveyed who’d had a dental appointment booked said it was cancelled.

Others said they’d been rescheduled or changed to a phone appointment.

Only 8% of booked appointments went ahead.

Dental surgeries are still fielding calls from patients and are to provide advice over the phone, as well as prescribing antibiotics and analgesics for more serious cases.

Read all the latest COVID-19 news and advice on our dedicated hub

Emergency dental care

Patients with emergency dental problems that need to be attended to in person can be referred to urgent dental care centres (UDCs), which are being set up across the UK at the moment.

In the first instance, patients are advised to call their dental practice for advice.

Emergencies which may be referred to a UDC include:  

🦷 Facial swelling

🦷 Loss of a permanent tooth

🦷 Post-extraction bleeding

🦷 Severe dental pain

🦷 Fractured teeth

🦷 Abscess or soft tissue infections

These conditions can become really serious or even life threatening if left untreated, but the British Dental Association points out that other things that don’t fit the emergency criteria can cause patients trouble as well.

A spokesperson for the BDA told us that many problems that have huge impact on quality of life – such as broken dentures and lost crowns – are unlikely to get needed assistance.

Urgent dental care centres have struggled to get off the ground in England, and hitting full capacity almost as soon as they have opened.

Last week, the BDA revealed that more than half of dentists in England said a lack of PPE has impacted the urgent care sites’ ability to operate.

This has left millions without access to urgent dental care across large regions of England, and concerning reports of people resorting to potentially dangerous or gruesome DIY dentistry procedures.

The system is reportedly working better in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Have you had to access dental care?

We want to know about your experiences with dentistry during lockdown and how it’s affected you.

Have you had an important appointment cancelled, or rescheduled? Have you sought or were you offered advice or medication over the phone?

Advice: what you can do about medical appointments

Without regular check-ups, are there things you’ve had to change about your dental care routine? 

We also want to know how well emergency care is working. Have you needed emergency dental care and did you get it? How easy or difficult was the process?

Please share your experiences with us in the comments.

Cardolyn Hill says:
15 October 2020

I had a traumatic experience of having my wisdom tooth removed at a centre. I ask to use the toilet and was told no due to the virus. As I left the clinic I noticed the wast bins at the side of the building. I am 70 years old to avoid wetting my pants I had to pull my clothing and wee by the bins. I apologised to the people that were standing close by