The British Dental Association (BDA) has said that the surge in sales of do-it-yourself (DIY) dental kits reflect the policies adopted by the government since the first lockdown and stressed that the treatment targets imposed on dental practices on January 1 will be incompatible with addressing the urgent backlog of cases.
For example, the BDA said, the Boots chain of pharmacies has reported that sales of at-home dental kits for lost fillings, caps, and crowns are up by 87% in the last three months of 2020, compared with the previous year.
Reports of DIY dentistry have been rife since the first lockdown, the BDA said, when all practices in England were shut for face-to-face care and the network of urgent-care dental centers faced PPE supply problems and restrictive treatment criteria.
Practices have operated at low capacity since they reopened in June owing to COVID-19 restrictions, the BDA continued, and remain capable of seeing just a fraction of former patient numbers.
The Welsh government has set aside ring-fenced funding for ventilation equipment to increase patient throughout, the BDA said, but authorities in England have yet to offer commitments.
Dental leaders have warned that the perverse activity measures imposed on National Health Service practices in England will create new barriers to treating patients experiencing urgent problems, the BDA said.
Ministers of Parliament have widely criticized the policy for prioritizing “volume over need,” the BDA said, as the system makes targets easier to hit through provision of routine care.
The BDA also has already contacted Health Secretary Matt Hancock following revelations that a leading dental chain has instructed its dentists to focus on routine checkups over urgent cases to meet the target.
“Patients should never have to take matters into their own hands. Sadly, this boom in DIY dentistry directly reflects the choices made by government throughout this pandemic,” said BDA chair Eddie Crouch.
“In the first lockdown, patients in pain were left with few options. Now, ministers have imposed targets that are forcing dentists to prioritize volume over need,” Crouch said. “We need help to restore access for the patients that need us most.”