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The pandemic

So, there's a lot to catch up on here...

There's not a person in the world who doesn't know about the coronavirus pandemic and the fact that virtually the whole world has been closed down for the last couple of months.

Dentistry has been no exception to this.

I remember the day and the time... On 19th March 2020, we received the order to "down our tools". It was lunchtime on a Thursday and I was at my Adel practice. I'd just fitted an Invisalign case and done a few fillings that morning, but from lunchtime was told by the boss that all patients requiring anything needing aerosols (fillings or scaling) needed to be cancelled for the forseeable future. Until that point, like a lot of others, I thought Coronavirus was one of those things that happened in other countries and wouldn't be a big deal. This was suddenly a MASSIVE DEAL.

Next day, I was mentoring a guy in sedation up in the North East. Coronavirus panic hadn't quite spread that far by that point and the dentist was in the same position as I was on the Thursday morning. "No, it will be fine. We'll wear two masks and power through."

Then, the schools closed, even McDonalds closed and then finally Bojo put the country on lockdown for three weeks.

No unnecessary journeys, working from home (bit difficult for us), internet shopping only, homeschooling...

Three weeks turned into 6 weeks, then 9 weeks then 10 weeks then Mr Johnson announced, although most the country was still in lockdown and although our country was still in level 4 risk (of 5) it was ok again for dentists to go back to work from 8th June.

We learned this on The BBC during the daily coronavirus briefing 6 working days before the supposed date we were due back.

So we waited and waited and waited for some guidance on how we could do this safely, to protect ourselves and our patients from spreading coronavirus and creating our own mini pandemic. Finally, 1 working day before going back (Thursday 4th June) the guidance arrived.

This did not leave most of us long to get together all the extra protective equipment we needed to get started again.

Luckily my practice in York has been providing a service as an Urgent Dental Care Centre for patients in pain that could not be dealt with over the phone, so we had most of the equipment and new operating standards in place. With a little tweak we should be ready for our first few patients on 8th June. We are planning to prioritise those patients most in need initially so we can space appointments out better and maintain social distancing.

There are lots of other practices who are struggling, having given away their PPE and oxygen cylinders etc to hospitals and people in need during the pandemic and struggling to restock. Getting hold of the enhanced PPE that we now need to use is virtually impossible as much of it is made abroad and there is not much transport and travel going on at the moment, and thousands of dentists are trying to get the same things at the same time. Plus, fit testers for respirator masks are virtually impossible to book as their diaries are full and no fillings or scaling can be done without FFP3 mask.

Eek! Wish me luck!!

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