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In the news week commencing 4 May 2020

National and local media coverage we've received week commencing 4 May.

Thursday 7 May

BBC Radio 4: better PPE supply needed to provide advanced treatments 

Today’s BBC Radio 4’s, You and Yours, highlighted our concern that some people are having teeth extracting unnecessarily because some of the urgent dental care hubs in England don’t have the appropriate PPE to perform aerosol generating procedures. The consumer programme included an interview with vice chair, Eddie Crouch, who said we would like to see the urgent care centres getting a better supply of PPE, so that dentists can provide more advanced treatments. He regretted the fact that in some centres the lack of appropriate PPE meant that treatments were largely limited to extractions which was like going back to our grandparents’ days.

When asked to comment on how many people were waiting to be treated, Eddie pointed out that dentists are taking between five and 20 calls a day, and the numbers of patients needing help was increasing. Eddie noted how few urgent care centres there are in England – 400 – relative to the number of dental practices – 9,000 and said we need to get back to opening private and NHS practices. He expressed concern over the lack of clarity when this might occur.  Eddie said: “There is no plan as to when we are coming out of this.”

Commenting on why people have resorted to DIY extractions, Eddie pointed out that this wasn’t advisable but he said he understood how desperate people could become when they cannot access a dental service.

Listen from the start and also from 9.27 mins 


The Sun: When will dentists reopen in the UK?

The Sun reports that it is still unclear when restrictions on dentistry will be relaxed and quotes our advice that: "Given the uncertainty and reflecting the practical consequences of the current official advice, we recommend that practices cease routine dentistry, and operate an advice and emergency service only.” The article said dentists who spoke anonymously to the BBC on March 18 said there have been widespread concerns within the profession due to their work in close proximity to the mouths of patients. It also said the BDA has warned that Covid-19 represents a "major risk" to the financial viability of dental practices due to closures and that Chief Executive Martin Woodrow had been in touch with NHS England to urge the importance of agreeing financial support for practices.


Sky News: Matt Hancock Q&A - collapse of primary dental care?

During a Q&A session on Sky News on 6 May, answering a question from dentist Uchenna Okoye on what he is doing about the potential collapse of primary dental care, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was working with the BDA. He talked about the UDC centre’s for emergency treatment and said he understood the business impact for both NHS and private dentistry. When asked if practices would open again soon, he said: "As part of the restart of the NHS that's something we're working on, hopefully within weeks or months.”


BBC Reporting Scotland: the challenge of treating a backlog of dental patients

Last night BBC Reporting Scotland, included an interview with chair of the Scottish Dental Practice Committee, David McColl, who highlighted the challenge of treating the backlog of dental patients once the pandemic subsides if practices are forced to close due to lack of financial support. The news bulletin noted the lack of financial assistance for private practices, and featured patients in pain and discomfort who were currently unable to access dental care. Chief dental officer (Scotland), Tom Ferris, stated that the Scottish Government would be discussing with stakeholders how dental practices might start to begin treating some patients.

Watch from 14:55 17:38.


BBC Radio Ulster: NI dentists use expertise to assist care homes 

Board member Peter Crooks, appeared on BBC Radio Ulster, Good Morning Ulster, and BBC Foyle Breakfast Show today to talk about the large number of Northern Ireland dentists who have volunteered to work in care homes. Peter discussed how in the first instance it was community dental service dentists and staff that had been deployed to provide general support to care homes. This was now being expanded to general dental practitioners (GDP). He explained that high street dentists who can’t open their doors for routine care have been asked to help out in care homes to exploit their expertise in infection prevention and control, which he said has been part and parcel of their work for years. He said that the community dental service is already well used to doing work in care homes and that many were using their own PPE from the dental practice, so as not to exhaust the care homes' supplies. It was estimated that 76 GDP dentists have volunteered to work in care homes to provide expertise.

Listen from: 2:02:59


BBC highlights dentists’ volunteering role in NI 

BBC Northern Ireland featured a story on 76 dentists who are volunteering to work in care homes, helping to provide training and support to care home staff on infection control, guidance on using PPE and swabbing. The death toll in care homes in Northern Ireland continues to rise, with 40% of coronavirus-related deaths in NI have been linked to care homes. The dentists have been given training, and have agreed to be redeployed during the pandemic, under the General Dental Services Financial Support Scheme. The Health and Social Care Board said it could not say how much the scheme would cost as this was dependent on a number of variable factors.

Halifax dental staff make visors to put smile back on NHS frontliner faces

The Halifax Courier included a story on a group of five dental technicians who are 3D printing visors for hospital, care home and ambulance service staff across Calderdale and Kirkless. Dental sales manager, Sean McMoran has set up a Go Fund Me page to help pay for the equipment needed for the visors. He said: “Each visor cost £5 to make, and the fact we made 2,000 visors in one month just shows how costly this project has become.” The article highlights Halifax MP Holly Lynch’s criticism of the Government’s handling of the dental sector, arguing it has been 'overlooked' and could collapse in a matter of weeks. The article quotes our figures that 68% of the region’s practices report they can only remain financially sustainable for three months or less, while 15% estimate they can only survive the month and the issues around securing financial support from Government for dentists. 

Wednesday 6 May

BBC Breakfast: BDA vice chair speaks out for private dentistry 
In a discussion on BBC1 Breakfast this morning about the shortcomings in the provision of urgent dental care, vice chair, Eddie Crouch, spoke about why private practice needs to be supported during the pandemic. He said: “My big concern is what dentistry will look like going forwards. The [lack of] support for private practice is really worrying at the moment. NHS practices were struggling before this and if many private practices go out of business, I’m really worried for the service that is going to be there for patients in the future.” 

Eddie pointed out that many dental practices provide a mix of NHS and private care and the latter subsidises the former. He also warned that the additional measures required to provide safe dental care for staff and patients alike will make it more expensive to deliver care in the future for both NHS and private dentists.

BBC 1 Breakfast also highlighted the frustration of dental patients, who fall between the cracks – those with ongoing painful conditions that have not been relieved by advice, analgesia or courses of antibiotics –  which are not deemed 'severe' enough to warrant being treated at an urgent care centre. 

Starts at 1:14:00

BBC Radio Sussex: Dentistry will look different in the future
BBC Radio Sussex spoke to Toby Hancock, a dentist in Chichester and our spokesperson in West Sussex and Mark Johnson, chair of Kent, Surrey and Sussex LDC about urgent dental care centres (UDCs) and treatment for patients. Toby said the volume of patients was too much for UDCs to be able to treat effectively, and that “We need to get the dentists back into practice and be able to work in a well risk assessed manner in order to see these patients.” Mark also highlighted the issue of not being able to see all those who require treatment and the frustration felt by dentists at not being able to help patients in pain. He pointed out that UDCs can only see around 7/8 patients a day because of cross-infection requirements. When asked if dental practices would be opening up again soon, he said: “I think we are a way from that yet, we are looking at national guidance, on how we are going to get back to routine care. As dentists, we want to get back to providing the best care for our patients.” He said that dentistry will look different in the future and couldn’t imagine practices doing a lot of AGPs unless there was testing for both staff and patients. Also featured later on the BBC Radio Surrey Evening news. 

Not available online
Yorkshire Evening Post: Dentists 'fearing bankruptcy and ultimately closure' 
The Yorkshire Evening Post featured an article on the plight of NHS dentistry if the Government doesn’t offer financial support, raised by MPs to Health Minister Matt Hancock. Labour’s Alex Sobel (Leeds, North West) said that many dental practices are “fearing bankruptcy and ultimately, closure” and will not survive the coronavirus outbreak. In response to a request from Tory MP Maria Miller for the Government to look at how practices “can move forward”, Matt Hancock said it is “important to get dentistry back on its feet”. Mr Sobel said: “Dozens of dentists have got in touch with the Secretary of State saying that the measures put in place aren’t protecting them and their practices – they take on a combination of private and NHS patients. Mr Hancock said that health ministers were working “very hard” with the BDA and other bodies “to make sure that dentists get the support that we need”. Ms Miller added that a number of dentists in her constituency of Basingstoke feel that they have got the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) to be able to carry out emergency dental procedures. In response, Mr Hancock said it was an important point and safety issues needed to be got right. He said emergency dentistry was available in dentistry hubs that have been set up during the crisis.

BBC Radio York Drive: Government needs to support dental practices
BBC Radio York Drive programme featured dentist Mark Green, as our North Yorkshire representative on the issue of 1/3 of NHS dental practices saying they won’t survive the coronavirus crisis. Mark said: “How do you get these practices back up and running because there will be a massive demand….we’ve been asking the Government to give support to practices and we haven’t had a definitive answer, but we are hoping that something will come about.”

Not available online
Radio Heart West Midlands: Taking out own teeth is not advised
Vice-Chair, Eddie Crouch appeared on Radio Heart West Midlands, discussing the lack of access for dental treatment during the pandemic and safety concerns over treatment. He said people self-medicating is a worry, “I’ve seen media reports of many people taking their own teeth out, which is not advised, some emergency DIY treatment with the guidance of a dentist is probably helpful, some centres have most of the PPE, but not all of the PPE to provide the full range of care for patients.” He also spoke to Capital FM Birmingham Radio, offering the advice: “Contact your own regular surgery, or if you haven’t got one, phone the nearest practice, and the colleague will give you the best advice over the phone.”

Not available online
Eastern Daily Press: Dentist puts a smile on the faces of care home staff with PPE
The Eastern Daily Press covered a story about a dentist, who is donating PPE to local care homes and is encouraging others to join in. Gautam Sharma, who runs the West Earlham Dental Practice, said: “It breaks my heart to hear how staff in the health and care sector are struggling to get the very equipment they need to do their job safely. While it’s been incredibly distressing to have to close the doors of my practice, for now, it placed me in the position of having immediate stock available, and the ability to continue to order from our suppliers. To donate, you can contact Gautam Sharma on 01603 250583 or email at The article said that the BDA was supportive of members who are helping in this way. Dr Sharma has also set up a Just Giving page – Protect Our Heroes to fundraise for PPE.

Not available online

Tuesday 5 May

Sky News: Patient with painful tooth says dentistry not seen as priority
This morning, Sky News featured an interview with a woman who resorted to filing her own tooth after a piece of jagged tooth was digging into her tongue, along with commentary from the BDA.  

Before lockdown, Deb Hepplestone broke her tooth - leaving her nerves exposed. Two temporary fillings were fitted but both failed to do the job. The pain proved to be unbearable so Deb took matters into her own hands by moulding putty and pushing it into the gap left in her cracked tooth. Deb told Sky News: "It's just unfortunate that dental treatment isn't seen as a priority because dental pain is horrendous and I'm sure there are people in a worse state than I've been who are really suffering because they can't get seen."
We were quoted saying that people doing dental work on themselves was "inevitable". Vice-chair, Eddie Crouch said: "I've seen media coverage of people taking their own teeth out and that certainly is not advised. Some emergency DIY treatment with the guidance from a dentist is probably helpful, there are temporary filling kits that can be purchased at the pharmacy so they can actually put something on to sort out a broken tooth or a filling."
Times: Can’t get to the dentist in lockdown? Here’s what you can do yourself
Times readers were reassured today that with routine dental work being on hold, there were some DIY measures they could take to deal safely with common dental problems. Journalist Harry Wallop spoke to a range of experts on what’s ok and what’s not, including the our scientific adviser, Professor Damien Walmsley.  

Damien explained the three criteria that constitute an emergency and therefore are likely to require treatment at an emergency-care hub. He also stressed the importance of making sure that dental problems don’t deteriorate by brushing their teeth for long enough and if people have bleeding gums, they were told the worst thing they could do is to stop brushing. Damien assured readers that if their teenager missed their brace tightening appointment during lockdown that this wouldn’t cause any damage, but would put back treatment.
BBC Radio York: Lack of PPE delayed opening of urgent dental care centres in Yorkshire
This morning’s mid-morning programme on BBC Radio York featured an interview with our spokesperson and North Yorkshire LDC rep, Mark Green, who gave an overview of the state of dentistry in his area since face-to-face contact was suspended on 25 March. Mark explained why routine dentistry presents a risk during the pandemic and why a high level of PPE is required. He added that the difficulty in getting this was the main reason why the urgent dental care centres were so slow in becoming established in North Yorkshire, much to the frustration of dentists as well as patients. He outlined the process of phone triage with a dentist, and advised, where applicable, that people take analgesia, such as paracetamol and/ or ibuprofen. He said the latter had been cleared by the appropriate health authority and was useful to keep the pain at bay. Mark was on standby to respond to callers’ questions.

Listen from around 22 min

Unable to access emergency dental treatment
Around 40 local radio stations across England, including Talk, LBC News, and Magic London, this morning highlighted the issue of thousands of people who are unable to access emergency dental treatment because of the coronavirus pandemic. NHS England has set up a number of hubs for urgent care, but the BDA is quoted as saying they have been too slow to take off because of the lack of PPE. Some patients needing dental care are being left in agony because they are unable to get emergency treatment, the BDA says it has concerns about the growing number of people, who are turning to DIY dentistry.

Not available online
Have we all been cleaning our teeth wrong?
The Tik Tok video of a man who apparently advocates the use of mouthwash after brushing his teeth continues to attract press attention. Heart included commentary from a BDA spokesperson who pointed out that if a mouthwash is used, it should be at a different time to brushing. People were also advised not to rinse the mouth out after brushing, otherwise it would wash away the fluoride which makes teeth more resistant to tooth decay. Other key oral health messages were mentioning, including the advice to 'spit don't rinse' after brushing.

Monday 4 May

BBC Points West: Patchy provision of urgent care for patients

On Friday 1 May, BBC Points West news and BBC Radio Somerset Drive featured commentary on the problems patients are experience accessing dental care during lockdown. The segment highlighted the BDA’s survey, which showed that 1/3 of urgent care sites in England remain inactive and half were reporting shortages of PPE. BDA board Vice Chair Eddie Crouch said: “It’s patchy, there are some clinics that have sufficient PPE and many others clinics that have some PPE, but not all, meaning that they can’t deliver a service. In response, a statement from NHS England said it was ‘…untrue that people are being turned away from UDCs because of PPE, they say there is an adequate supply and all centres are open for referrals.’  They said delays are more likely to be caused by the amount of time it takes to decontaminate after patients are treated.

Not available online


Dental patients left in pain

BBC Bristol Drive evening news Friday 1 May, gave a warning that many patients in the Bristol area are being left in pain because they are not being offered urgent care. We were quoted as saying there is a lack of planning and personal equipment leading to patients being turned away from UDC centres. The segment featured a patient who was in a lot of dental pain and was told they couldn’t get treatment but eventually managed to get an appointment. 

Not available online


Scotland on Sunday: Dental care could go back decades

Scotland on Sunday highlighted the difficulties dentists are facing in accessing Government support during the coronavirus pandemic. Practice owner Leanne Branton said that most practices were missing out on the £10,000 grant for small businesses because the rateable value of their properties are too high and they are also not entitled to the £25,000 grant on offer, as they are not in the hospital or retail sectors. Alongside other dentists, she signed a letter to the Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, asking for urgent financial support and warned that Scotland could go back decades if dental practices are lost. The piece also highlighted our survey which says 68 per cent of practices feel they won’t survive beyond three months of lockdown, due to financial pressures.

Edinburgh Evening News -  Scotland risks going back 'entire generation' says senior dentist


East Anglian Daily Times: Dental practice could lose everything…

An article in the East Anglian Daily Times on 2 May on the plight of health-related business being left with uncertain futures, featured the North Hill Dental Practice in Colchester, saying they have no access to direct government funding. Clinical director Dr Sachin Sedani said: “We are still able to triage patients over video call and make sure they get any emergency treatment they need. It’s important the public knows that dentistry is still going ahead and they can get treatment if they need it and they contact us.” The piece also featured our call for MPs to “throw them a lifeline” and announce further financial support for dentists and our chair Mick Armstrong’s comment that dentists need to be given the same support as being offered to other businesses on the high street.