Welcome to a new style of dental practice....
COVID-19 UPDATE 1 JULY 2020
Dear lovely patients,
We are pleased to announce that Smile is open again, but for the time being, WE ARE ONLY OPEN TO TREAT EMERGENCIES AND CURRENT PROBLEMS.
For three months, all we were able to offer was verbal advice over the phone and to prescribe antibiotics and painkillers, or refer on to an emergency treatment hub for teeth to be extracted. It is therefore with great joy that we are at last in a position to do what we were trained to do, and what you want us to do, save your teeth!
At this time however, due to the continued risk posed by the Covid-19 virus, we still have significant restrictions imposed on us by our regulatory bodies and the situation is still a long way from being 'normal', despite the impression given by the government recently announcing that 'dentists would be back open for routine care on 8th June'. This is simply not true and cannot happen.
There are many additional hurdles we now have to overcome since lockdown was lifted, such as the sourcing and acquisition of more complex PPE and the booking of much longer appointments. For example, for a 30-minute filling appointment prior to lockdown, has since trebled and we now have to book 90 minutes! So, in practical terms, not only do we have a backlog of patients to see, but our operating capacity has been significantly reduced to just a third of what it was. We therefore ask for you to continue to bear with us as we try to unpick the problems caused by a lack of access to dentistry for the past three months and work out how we can deliver a service anywhere near normal again. We are having to reconsider almost everything about the way we practise dentistry.
Those of you who have been with us for many years will know the passion we have at Smile for looking after you and the health of your mouths. Our philosophies remain unchanged, but the manner in which we now have to deliver our exceptionally high standards needs to be reconsidered on many levels. Before telephoning the practice with any questions you may have, please refer to the following notes to help you understand the current situation at Smile.
Qu. I still have an existing routine examination and hygiene appointment in the diary - will it be going ahead?
At the current time, the answer is unfortunately no. Hopefully at some point soon we will be able to resume normal dentistry, but this may not be until the risk status has dropped to level 2.
Qu. I am in the middle of a course of routine dental treatment - when will this be completed?
Many patients were in the middle of courses of dental treatment at the time of lockdown on 23rd March. We have a list of those people who have been affected and are currently booking appointments in chronological order, to get this work completed alongside those patients we are booking in with emergencies. Please bear with us. We know who you are and you will be contacted as soon as possible.
Qu. I am in the middle of specialist implant treatment - when will this be completed?
There are a large number of patients in this situation and we know who you are. Some are awaiting consultations, some for surgery and some for impressions and the fitting of their final teeth. This work will recommence very soon. We are working hard to find an efficient and practical solution to deliver all aspects of implant dentistry for our patients and plan to start booking appointments shortly. Thank you for your patience. If you have any questions regarding your implant treatment, it would be helpful if you would email the practice rather than telephone, so we can schedule a response from the appropriate person and keep reception free to answer non-implant related calls.
Qu. I have active gum disease and I am desperate to see a hygienist to keep my situation under control. When can I be seen?
It is a top priority for us to re-establish a hygiene service back at Smile and we are currently working out how this can be done. Initially, it will likely involve traditional hand scaling with restricted tooth polishing only (not ultrasonic 'air & water' scaling) and we hope to have this service back up and running in the next couple of weeks. We will make personal contact shortly with all those patients who have missed their hygiene appointments over the past three months and work overtime through the backlog to get up to date, in chronological order.
Qu. I have an urgent problem, what should I do?
If you have an emergency or urgent problem, we are delighted that we can now help you. Please telephone the practice reception between 9am and 5pm to speak with us, or leave an answerphone message outside of these times and we will get back to you. You will be asked a series of questions relating primarily to your Covid-19 virus risk status, but also requesting an update on your medical history and be asked to briefly explain the nature of your dental problem. You will then be offered an appointment for an initial half hour assessment. If your problem is simple to treat, you may be offered a solution there and then at the assessment, however if you have a problem needing to use the drill or other piece of equipment that can generate an 'aerosol' you will need to come back to a subsequent, much longer, appointment for this. If you do need this additional appointment, you will be advised of the associated costs at your initial assessment, which will include a nominal contribution towards the additional cost of advanced level PPE, which is necessary for what is termed an 'aerosol generating procedure' (AGP).
Qu. What about PPE and our safety?
Your safety has always been our number one priority at Smile and continues to be so. We are very well prepared and have had all the necessary, advanced level PPE in the practice for quite a while now. Our rate limiting step in getting going again with dentistry at Smile has been awaiting official guidance from our professional bodies on what we can and cannot do, taking the appropriate time to undertake risk assessments and to set the correct procedures in place. Your safety against the Covid-19 virus at Smile is arguably much greater than any other places you are likely to visit outside of your sheltered homes.
Qu. In what other ways are you keeping us safe?
When you arrive at Smile, you will be asked to wait outside in your car, to be called for your appointment only when we are ready to see you. This eliminates any contact with other patients in the waiting room. On entry to the practice, your temperature will be taken and you will be asked further questions to establish your risk status. If we have concerns, you may be sent home. All staff in the practice will be wearing PPE at all times and you will be escorted straight to the surgery for assessment/treatment, thereby reducing your contact time with anyone other than the dentist and nurse who will be looking after you. At the end of your appointment, you will be escorted out of the practice and any further appointments deemed necessary may be arranged with you later over the phone. Payment for treatment will similarly be arranged over the telephone, in advance of your appointment, to reduce your time in the practice.
We hope the above goes some way to explain the current predicament in which we find ourselves personally at Smile and also with dentistry at large in the UK. The majority of problems are outside our control, but be reassured that we are working very hard to put measures into place to get the practice up and running as fully as we are able. This will take time and we greatly appreciate your patience. Nobody will be left in pain or with urgent problems - please contact us should you have problems and we will ensure you are seen promptly.
As you can probably imagine, the telephone is constantly ringing at Smile with patients wanting to be seen. If you do have further questions, it would be greatly appreciated if you would kindly contact us instead by email wherever possible rather than by telephone, so that we can schedule a timely response at this very busy time.
Please keep referring back to this website for updated information. Remember, we want to re-open fully, just as much as you want us to! Together, with patience and due regard for our collective responsibilities to get this virus under control in the UK, we will get there.
David, Sharon and the Smile Team x