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Some people are still struggling to access dental treatment almost three years after the pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, dental treatment became nearly impossible to get. Many practices were shut during the pandemic and those that weren’t, were open for …
Some people are still struggling to access dental treatment almost three years after the pandemic. During the COVID-19 pandemic, dental treatment became nearly impossible to get. Many practices were shut during the pandemic and those that weren’t, were open for the most severe cases.
Dentists have long backlogs of patients awaiting check-ups. In 2021, Dr Russel Gidney stated that around 6,000 of his patients had not been given a routine check-up in the past year because of Covid restrictions. Dentists were limited in the number of patients they treated because of the increased safety measures, including cleaning between patients. Dental surgeries continue to report having thousands of people on their waiting lists.
Healthwatch England conducted a review of 1,375 people’s experiences and said that some people are being offered swift private care as an alternative to NHS dental treatment. Many are told that they will need to wait 3 years for an NHS dental appointment, whilst private appointments are available within a week. This creates the pressure of paying for treatments which not everyone can afford. Further, Healthwatch England reported that many dentists are either shutting down or going completely private. Even when people can get access to dental care, 61% of people deem the treatment too expensive. This results in people avoiding treatment because of the costs.
Delays in dental care are resulting in worsening painful symptoms. Small holes in teeth, which may not be obvious to patients, could end up needing a major procedure if people are not able to book routine check-ups. For example, a root filling or tooth extraction may be required. In some severe cases, it is not always possible to diagnose gum disease or cancer swiftly, due to there not always being any obvious symptoms. With gum disease for example, patients only get symptoms when the teeth have already come loose and by that stage it is too late.
When brushing teeth daily, people would rarely think dental professional cleaning is needed. Often, some people put off seeing their dentist, even with slight pain or minor problems. Sometimes, delay is further caused by conflicting work schedules. Even when brushing and flossing daily, routine dental exams are still vital. Brushing and flossing does not completely prevent plaque and tartar build-up. When there is build-up, tooth decay and gum disease can occur.
The importance of regular dental check-ups and treatments (such as a scale and polish or a referral to a hygienist) is clear, but so is the issue of access and affordability in dental care.
If you have any concerns about delayed dental treatment, we recommend that you seek the advice of a dental practitioner. If you wish to discuss a potential claim, then please feel free to contact the dental team.