Dentists warn that a return to normal is still a long way off as practices in England reopen from today

Practices must follow strict health and safety protocols when reopening. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Practices must follow strict health and safety protocols when reopening. (Photo: Shutterstock)

As some dental practices in England prepare to re-open, The British Dental Association (BDA) has warned people not to expect "business as usual".

Practices in England have been told that they can reopen from Monday June 8, provided that appropriate safety measures are put in place to protect staff and patients.

However, a poll by the BDA has found that a significant proportion of practices are not planning to re-open, with many citing concerns about a lack of sufficient PPE and a lack of warning with regards to re-opening safely.

The poll, of 2,053 practices in England, found that just 36 per cent of practices plan to open from June 8.

"Anyone expecting dentistry to magically return on Monday will find only a skeleton service", BDA chair Mick Armstrong told the BBC.

"Those practices reopening now face fewer patients and higher costs and will struggle to meet demand".

One of the major challenges for dental practices identified by the poll was a lack of PPE in practices. Just a third of practices in the survey said they had enough supply for face-to-face care.

Though the poll found that 60 per cent of practices plan to reopen by the end of June, services are likely to be limited compared to what was available before.

There will also be strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place. These measures mean practices will be unable to treat the same amount of patients as they may have previously.

Some of these measures may include limiting use of waiting areas, waiting room chairs being spaced out, screening staff and installing physical barriers in reception areas.

Some practices may even ask patients to wait in their cars until they can be seen by a dentist.

Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, told the BBC:

"We'll continue to work with dentists, and support them to offer safe care, using latest guidance from PHE and government on PPE [personal protective equipment] and infection control".