The World Health Organization and the Scottish government have praised a rapid review of recommendations to reopen dental services led by academics from the universities of Dundee and Aberdeen in collaboration with the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP), NHS Education for Scotland, the University of Manchester, and Cochrane Oral Health.
As dental practices in the United Kingdom and around the world have closed or reduced their services and are looking to reopen safely, the team collated numerous published sources to create an overview of international recommendations of how dentistry can prepare to move forward in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the University of Dundee.
“There is now an urgent need to map out how dental services are to return to providing wider patient care. Given that we have only really known about COVID-19 for about 130 days, robust evidence to inform how to approach reopening is scarce or nonexistent,” said Janet Clarkson, PhD, a professor at the University of Dundee School of Dentistry.
“The same concerns exist across the world, and therefore we decided to formally review the recommendations being produced in different countries as a resource for decision makers,” Clarkson said.
Cochrane Oral Health first published the review, “Recommendations for the Reopening of Dental Services: A Rapid Review of International Sources,” on May 6. It initially looked at recommendations from 11 countries and was updated on May 18 to include five more countries.
“We identified sources from 11 countries and found relevant recommendations fell into five themes: practice preparation, personal protective equipment, management of the clinical area, dental procedures, and cleaning and disinfection,” said Craig Ramsay, PhD, director of the Health Services Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen.
“The review collates the range of recommendations related to each theme from the various sources identified. I would like to stress that this review is not guidance but, in the absence of robust evidence, it should assist policy and decision makers in producing national guidance for their own settings,” Ramsay said.
“The review has been very well received. The World Health Organization has shared the results with their Global Oral Health Network of 190 chief dental officers from around the world,” said Thomas Lamont, PhD, clinical lecturer at the University of Dundee School of Dentistry.
“Scottish government’s National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch highlighted the role the results will play in helping to plan for the reopening of dental services. Professor Leitch and the First Minister thanked dental teams for their efforts at this time,” Lamont said.
Dentistry teams at the University of Dundee have played a significant role in dental guidance development and shaping United Kingdom policy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the university said. Its teams have continued to work with SDCEP, where Clarkson is director, to publish and update guidelines for safe practice.
SDCEP also has published “Management of Acute Dental Problems During COVID-19 Pandemic,” which the University of Dundee says has been recognized worldwide. Published in March, it has been viewed more than 80,000 times.