New SOP Revisions Bring Little Change

New SOP Revisions Bring Little Change

The revisions to the Standard Operating Procedure announced last week, received an underwhelmed response from many dental professionals.

Many practitioners felt that the revisions made very little difference to current daily procedures, falling well short of the much-needed relaxation of fallow times.

In her latest bulletin, England Chief Dental Officer Sara Hurleysaid  “Health and care settings will continue to maintain appropriate infection prevention and control processes as necessary and this will be continually reviewed. Guidance will be updated based on the latest clinical evidence this summer."

A call by the  British Dental Association on the four UK Chief Dental Officers to commission the  Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) to develop a strategy in order to relax the restrictions, was answered by the four CDO’s a few weeks ago.

In a joint statement, they said “All four UK chief dental officers share their profession’s ambition for increasing access which needs to be done safely and effectively, which is why there is now going to be a further review of the UK-wide infection control guidance in the light of the current science and prevalence.” 

When that review will produce any valuable guidance is not known, although one dental commentator told GDPUK that he anticipated some form of announcement in September.

Until only a few days ago, the position on mask-wearing by patients visiting medical and dental premises was unclear, prompting the British Dental Association and other professional healthcare organisations including the British Medical Association, to write to the Prime Minister.  They called on Boris Johnson to make patient facemasks in medical settings mandatory.

A day later, England’s Chief Nursing Officer, Ruth May issued a reminder to the public to wear masks across healthcare settings.

Ms Maysaid “Face coverings and social distancing measures will remain in place across healthcare settings so that the most vulnerable people can continue to safely attend hospital, their GP surgery, pharmacy or any other healthcare settings for advice, care and treatment,” the BDA Newswebsite reported.

“And it is important for the public to continue to play their part when visiting NHS and care settings to help protect our staff and patients, particularly those who may be more vulnerable to infections."

While NHS England remains cautious with regard to aerosol-generating procedures, the United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) has issued new firm guidance.

In stark contrast to advice in the UK, the CDC has now advised that practitioners should  avoid aerosol-generating procedures in a typical dental operatory only for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, if possible, according to the American Dental Association.

GDPUK recently   reportedthat research carried out by  Cambridge University Hospitals Foundation Trust  showed that wearing high-grade FFP3 masks can provide up to 100% protection against coronavirus infection in health workers.

Another recent study carried out at the   University of Bristol concluded that many of the common procedures carried out by dentists have a very low risk of increasing the aerosol spread of COVID-19. It also found that some procedures, such as ultrasonic scaling, were not shown to generate aerosol other than from the clean instrument itself.

Another study carried out at  Ohio University earlier this year, also found that when the genetic makeup of organisms detected in samples of aerosols were analysed, researchers found that the watery solution from irrigation tools, and not saliva, was the main source of any bacteria or viruses present in the spatter and spurts from patients’ mouths.

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