How has the pandemic impacted community dental care services?

COVID-19 IMPACT

We asked a few providers this month what impact COVID-19 has had on patients and services provided.

What have dental services seen as their biggest challenges during this time?

  • Doing treatment without producing aerosols – an area of high concern for practitioners and consumers, so we had to halt most treatment.
  • Trying to provide advice via telehealth to help consumers make sure their disease/symptoms didn’t get worse.
  • Inability to complete consumers’ treatment within normal periods of time – we have 1200 people in mid-care now
  • However reported rates of infection by oral health staff have been very low – perhaps less than 1% of staff have been diagnosed – so infection control has been effective
  • Big increases in waiting lists

What have they seen as their biggest successes?

  • COVID-19 has been an opportunity for change, so have changed our systems
  • We have had to focus more on prevention – we have talked more to consumers via telehealth
  • Consumers have a heightened appreciation of the need for regular care “I’ve been waiting for this appointment so long”

What key insights/lessons have been learnt?

  • We have done (and should continue to do) more preventive work
  • But funding is based on treatment, this needs to change
  • Telehealth can assist in triaging patients early and better (which patients appreciate) and do preventive work better (95% of our education was by telehealth during the pandemic)

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