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In the news

We're speaking to national and local media daily to represent you and your interests. Here's some of the coverage we've received and relevant news items.

Tuesday 26 January 2021

If 50% of dentists volunteered, we could vaccinate up 2 million a week

Sky News features an interview with Michael Frankl, who believes that ‘dentists could be a major force’ in delivering the national covid vaccination programme. He points out that there are approx. 40,000 dentists in the UK and argues that even if half of those were to agree to volunteer, we could be a major force, if we did even 100 patients a week that’s 2 million cases a week, or in 5 weeks 10 million vaccinations, just from volunteering dentists. He outlines the various ways that dentists could contribute and says: “We could vaccinate patients in our own surgeries, where we treat patients all day long, or we could offer our surgeries for a day or half a day a week, to support the vaccination programme or we can volunteer in the vaccination centres themselves. We are used to injecting people all day long, I’ve been doing it for 27 years. We obviously inject in the mouth and not in the arm, but we could be trained within a few hours, a day or so, to do it properly and safely, we’ve got regulations for dentists, the Care Quality Commission, to provide the injections safely. We’re in a good position to do it, and I think we should do more.”

 

How artificial intelligence will transform the future of dentistry

London Loves Business highlights that 62% of participants in a recent survey said they could not access dental treatment during the pandemic. It adds that the British Dental Association reports there were 19 million fewer dental appointments than predicted for 2020. While the previous year, there were 39.5 million dental appointments undertaken, 2020 saw much less than 20 million - effectively, the pandemic has halved the number of available dentist appointments. If great crises lead to great innovation, perhaps this is why Dentistry.ai founders Angam Parashar and Ankit Singh think that within the next year, artificial intelligence (AI) will be increasingly adopted in the dental industry.

 

AI is currently used in voice commands like DEXvoice. Created by Simplifyeye, DEXIS is the modern dentist's "Alexa" - allowing the dentist to use a "hands-free" way to bring up patient records, X-rays and charts. This helps the dentist to multi-task, streamlines the workflow, and is also a more hygienic way to work as gloves do not need to be worn to use the computer. AI has also been enabling dentists to quickly identify and predict tooth decay with a higher degree of accuracy, which historically has required years of experience. Trained through exposure to millions of images, AI assistants have been trained to browse X-ray and 3D images to instantly and accurately generate predictions. For example, Dentistry.ai has an algorithm that sifts through a series of radiographs and finds patterns that are otherwise impossible for the human eye to find. This means dentists can supercharge their ability to detect oral disease. Machine learning has enabled dentists to predict potential lesions, through being able to process massive amounts of data and predictive patterns.

 

Monday 25 January 2021

Sheffield MP urges a Government U-turn on 'nonsensical' new targets for dentists

The Sheffield Telegraph reports that Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield has urged the Government to drop new rules that dentists say will damage their services. He told Parliament: “This ‘normal activity’ target will skew priorities away from those patients most in need. As one dentist explained to me, they will be ‘forced to stop seeing emergency patients... and to push the limits of the sound infection control procedures brought in to protect patients and staff. As another said, ‘These targets are the wrong choice at the wrong time’. This is not scaremongering, as has been suggested, but a real and genuine concern from dental professions who care about the services they provide.”

 

In total, 76% of respondents to a BDA survey in Yorkshire and the Humber region report a significant increase in cancelled appointments or no-shows since the third lockdown was announced, directly impacting on the ability to meet the targets.

 

NHS urged to add ‘COVID tongue’ to official symptoms list as experts fear 1 in 5 cases are missed

The Sun reports that the NHS is being urged to add so-called "COVID tongue" to its list of official coronavirus symptoms. Professor Tim Spector, who runs the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, warned he is seeing a rise in the number of people with the side effect. It can include a swollen tongue, small red or white bumps and unusual mouth ulcers. Prof Spector, an epidemiologist at King's College London said on Twitter: "One in five people with COVID still present with less common symptoms that don't get on the official PHE list - such as skin rashes.” It means that up to 20 per cent of COVID positive cases could be unaccounted for and continuing to spread the deadly disease. He tweeted urging people to continue sending him pictures of their "COVID tongues" - when the mouth rash is coincided with fever and fatigue.

 

Also reported in The Express on Saturday COVID tongue: What is COVID tongue?, featuring comments from BDA spokesperson Professor Damien Walmsley, who said sore patches are often only an indication that a person is run down and their immune system isn’t at its best. Professor Walmsley said: “It could also occur in those who have been taking antibiotics, or using asthma inhalers.” Single white patches on the tongue, however, “can be a bit more worrying” according to the professor as there’s a small chance it could indicate oral cancer. A localised white patch or red bump that’s been there for more than three weeks should be checked out as soon as possible by your GP or dentist, the expert said.

 

See also COVID-19 - The ten strange signs of coronavirus you haven’t heard of, in The Sun today.

 

Dentists who felt 'overlooked' set to finally get vaccine clarity

The Eastern Daily Press reports that dentists in Norfolk and Waveney who feared they had been "overlooked" in the list of healthcare workers who are prioritised for COVID jabs. Dental practices were due to be contacted by vaccination organisers from Wednesday afternoon onwards, according to Norfolk local dental committee (NLDC).

 

Dentists and their colleagues are classed as frontline health workers and therefore deemed a top priority by the vaccination programme. But some dentists in the area have highlighted an apparent gap in the vaccine roll-out, revealing they have been told little to nothing about potential appointments. Hamed Karimi, practice owner of Norfolk Dental Specialists in Victoria Street, Norwich, claims the wait for information is a "Norfolk thing". "Dental colleagues all over the UK - in Edinburgh, Yorkshire and Essex - have already been vaccinated," said Dr Karimi. "For some reason, we have been forgotten. Every single patient we treat is face-to-face and each of us treats 20 to 30 patients a day. We are very happy for our patients to take appointments - we just want to be considered."

 

 Nick Stolls, a member of NLDC, said dentists had faced a delay as the process of collecting data on Norfolk practices was not completed until Tuesday. He added: "NHS England will now begin contacting colleagues and they are working their way through our practices. "There was some confusion, but now we have been told quite clearly that dentists and their staff are considered frontline workers. Those in other parts of the country might well have been vaccinated already. Inevitably that will happen with a mass programme. Dentists will be vaccinated by the middle of February, and that is something we will hold NHS England to account for." Norfolk and Waveney CCG, which is rolling out the vaccine in the area, has been contacted for comment.