Patients unable to get urgent treatment from their dentist during the pandemic are offered care at a network of centres – including a new dedicated centre run by NHS hospital staff.
Staff who normally diagnose and treat life-threatening conditions of the mouth, face, jaw and teeth at Torbay Hospital run by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust are also using their skills at an Oral Surgery Emergency Hub.
The Oral and Maxillofacial Team were asked by NHS England to help provide emergency surgical procedures because patients were unable to access care from their general dental practitioners during the pandemic.
Using the most comprehensive personal protective equipment (PPE), to ensure the safety of patients and staff, the team is providing an expanding service of oral surgery and tooth extractions to treat swelling and pain.
Matthew Heming, Specialist Oral Surgeon, said: “During this crisis, our team is uniquely positioned to support the urgent primary care centres. Our surgical experience and ability to manage patients with acute or life-threatening dental infections in hospital is more important than ever as patients have been unable to access dental care over the lockdown.”
He explained his team are specialists in carrying out their work safely way without generating the very fine spray (or aerosol) between patient and medical staff that can spread airborne coronavirus: “We can safely remove many difficult and broken teeth efficiently without the need for generating aerosols.
“We also have a strong reputation for easing patients fears and anxieties of surgery in the mouth, which is essential as many patients have suffered from the stress and anxiety of pain and swelling for several weeks.”
Patient Jill Lintern who attended the Oral Surgery Emergency Hub for a loose tooth causing her ‘unbearable pain’ said: “The treatment I received by the team was amazing and the staff were fantastic and friendly. I felt very safe at all times and was very happy with the service I received.”
Registered patients can access this service through their General Dental Practitioner or 111. Unregistered patients can contact 111 and will be triaged by colleagues in the Community Dental Service.
Following an initial assessment by the triage team, patients will be prescribed pain relief and antibiotics or, if necessary, referred onto our specialist team of surgeons and nurses.
During this time the Oral and Maxillofacial Department continue to see new and ongoing head and neck cancer patients.
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