| 15.5°C Belfast

Covid closure of NI dentists sees number of fillings procedures plunge

The official subsidy to maintain the viability of general dental services increased by around £1 million a month over the first month of the pandemic.

Close

The number of dental fillings during lock down plunged by 140,000 in Northern Ireland, official statistics showed (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The number of dental fillings during lock down plunged by 140,000 in Northern Ireland, official statistics showed (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The number of dental fillings during lock down plunged by 140,000 in Northern Ireland, official statistics showed (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The number of dental filling procedures during lockdown plunged by 144,000 in Northern Ireland, NHS statistics showed.

The official subsidy to maintain the viability of general dental services increased by around £1 million a month over the first month of the pandemic.

Total extractions was just more than a quarter of the corresponding period last year, the Department of Health said.

Close

Appointments were curtailed with routine dental care restricted from the middle of March due to the risk of passing the virus through aerosol generating procedures (Liam McBurney/PA)

Appointments were curtailed with routine dental care restricted from the middle of March due to the risk of passing the virus through aerosol generating procedures (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Appointments were curtailed with routine dental care restricted from the middle of March due to the risk of passing the virus through aerosol generating procedures (Liam McBurney/PA)

Appointments were curtailed with routine dental care restricted from the middle of March due to the risk of passing the virus through aerosol generating procedures.

Urgent care centres have been established in each trust.

The report from the Department of Health said: “The need to provide financial support to maintain the viability of general dental services means that approximately £1 million in additional net payments are being made to dental practices each month compared with the same period in 2019, in spite of the reduction in activity.”

Hundreds of thousands of patients will lose access to dental care if better protective equipment is not provided by the NHS, dentists have said.

Routine treatment resumed recently, with limited numbers of appointments to allow for regular cleaning of surgeries.

Urgent care centres remain open until the end of August.

Close

Tristen Kelso, Northern Ireland director of the British Dental Association, said dentists were appealing for a rescue package (British Dental Association/PA)

Tristen Kelso, Northern Ireland director of the British Dental Association, said dentists were appealing for a rescue package (British Dental Association/PA)

PA

Tristen Kelso, Northern Ireland director of the British Dental Association, said dentists were appealing for a rescue package (British Dental Association/PA)

Tristen Kelso, Northern Ireland director of the British Dental Association, said dentists were appealing for a rescue package.

He added: “It is as stark as it gets here.

“There is no way health service dentistry can be done without some sort of extra support here.

“We are waiting to hear if that will be forthcoming.”

Dentists have urged the Department of Health to cover the cost of purchasing a higher level of personal protective equipment.

They believe it is needed during aerosol-generating procedures such as fillings.

The Health and Social Care Board has launched a scheme to provide funding to general dental practices for mask fit testing.

The minister has also announced that a financial support scheme, which has already provided £16 million in payments to local dentists, will continue for a further month to support the return of non-urgent dental care as the restrictions are lifted.

In the interim, the department said it would engage with the profession around the provision of ongoing financial support for the remainder of 2020/21.

PA