More dental care will be available for patients in Wales from next month, the chief executive of NHS Wales has said.
Dr Andrew Goodall said people who have experienced problems during lockdown will be offered help first.
He told the daily Welsh Government briefing that dental care would return from July 1 in three stages.
“Many dental procedures use high-speed drills and other tools which are aerosol generating. This means they create spray and represent a high risk of coronavirus transmission,” Dr Goodall said.
“For this reason, we asked dentists to stop routine activity for the time being.
“The restoration of dental services needs to be gradual to continue to protect dental practice staff from patients and this may again be making changes to ensure a safe environment for activity.”
We will progress based on urgency and patient need until the restoration of routine check-ups in the final phaseDr Andrew Goodall, NHS Wales
Dr Goodall said that, as levels of coronvirus stabilise, dental services would return in “three distinct phases”.
“The next phase of the escalation should come into effect from July 1, when dentists will be able to offer more treatments in their practices,” he said.
“A wide range of care will be available at most local dental practices for patients who urgently need it.
“The group of people who have experienced problems during lockdown will be offered assessments and care first.
“We will progress based on urgency and patient need until the restoration of routine check-ups in the final phase.
“We will keep this under review, to ensure that dentistry is aligned with the recovery plans for all other areas of primary care, and the overall approach to restrictions and community transmission.”
During the lockdown, dentists remained open for urgent care and treated 11,500 people, undertook 140,000 remote consultations and continued to offer pain relief and antibiotics.
Dr Goodall refused to be drawn on whether next week’s review of the lockdown regulations in Wales would see the “social bubble” measures introduced in England adopted over the border.
“We’ll be approaching the next phase of the lockdown review and the First Minister, alongside the Cabinet, will reviewing any opportunities to see what the next steps are for lockdown restrictions,” he said.
“There is a need to keep a cautious approach going forward, not least I think to make sure that we’re able to continue to provide NHS services. Our ‘new normal’ is going to feel different because there will be reduced activities going on.”
Responding to figures which show a big drop in cancer referrals in England, Dr Goodall said it would take some time to restore “normal levels” of activity to the NHS in Wales.
“It’s not an overnight switch and it’s something that we have to do quite cautiously,” he said.
“There will have been some impact of these last 10 to 12 weeks, in particular on waiting lists.
“We need to also recognise that there was also a factor about seeing referrals reducing into our system as well.”
The latest number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Wales has been updated.— Public Health Wales (@PublicHealthW) June 11, 2020
Find out how we are responding to the spread of the virus in our daily statement here: https://t.co/u6SKHz0zsG pic.twitter.com/d8FlgKwO5C
Meanwhile, Public Health Wales said a further six people had died after testing positive for Covid-19, taking the total number of deaths in Wales to 1,425, while the total cases increased by 63 to 14,581.
The UK Government announced that 316,000 workers in Wales had been furloughed as part of the job retention scheme and a further 102,000 self-employed had also received support.
Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said: “The UK Government said it would do whatever it took to support the people and businesses of Wales through the pandemic and we have produced an unprecedented package of measures to deliver on that promise.”