• Dental practices told to stop all routine treatment
  • Patients to be triaged on phone with some practices offering urgent care
  • Measure aimed at stopping spread of covid-19

Dental practices have been told to suspend all routine treatment in a bid to reduce the spread of covid-19.

In a letter sent to practices today, NHS England and Improvement said: “All routine, non-urgent dental care including orthodontics should be stopped and deferred until advised otherwise.”

All dental practices should establish — either independently or with others — a telephone triage service for patients with urgent dental needs, the guidance added.

Urgent and emergency care will be based on telephone advice and prescription of analgesics or antibiotics.

NHS regions have been told to set up “local urgent dental care systems” to manage patients with emergency dental problems. Each system would involve provision at numerous sites to separate patients who either have possible or confirmed covid-19, or live with someone who has, and those deemed particularly vulnerable or at significant risk from the disease.

NHSE’s chief dental officer Sara Hurley said in the letter: “We appreciate that these are significant changes that will have major implications on your personal and professional lives and will bring about new ways of working locally and nationally.

“We know that the profession [is] calling for further guidance and we are fully committed to working openly and constructively to rapidly update and clarify guidance as the position evolves.”

In a letter confirming the decision and offering regulatory guidance, Rosie Benneyworth, the Care Quality Commission’s chief inspector of primary medical services, added: “As this change in service provision affects the whole of the dental sector it is not necessary for providers to notify us at this time, unless a service closure is permanent.”