A rapid review of recommendations to re-open dental services, led by academics from the Universities of Dundee and Aberdeen, has been praised by the World Health Organisation and the Scottish Government.
As is the case with many healthcare services, dentistry has been widely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The current situation has resulted in the closure or reduction of dental services across the world. Now, dental professionals are focused on planning a safe and effective way to re-open and restructure services.
A University of Dundee team, in collaboration with the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness
Programme (SDCEP), NHS Education for Scotland, the Universities of Aberdeen and Manchester, and Cochrane Oral Health, have conducted a rapid review of internationally produced guidance for re-opening dental services.
The review group, led by the University of Dundee’s Professor Janet Clarkson alongside the University of Aberdeen’s Professor Craig Ramsay, 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.
Professor Clarkson explained, “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 re-opening is scarce or non-existent.
“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.”
The review, entitled Recommendations for the re-opening of dental services: a rapid review of international sources, was first published on the Cochrane Oral Health website on 6 May. It initially looked at recommendations from 11 countries and was updated yesterday, 18 May, to include a further five countries.
“We identified sources from eleven 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 the University of Aberdeen’s Professor Ramsay.
“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.”
The review has been highlighted by Scottish Government and is also set to influence dental teams worldwide, as the University of Dundee’s Dr Thomas Lamont explained,
“The review has been extremely well received.” he said.
“The World Health Organisation has shared the results with their Global Oral Health Network of 190 Chief Dental Officers from around the world.
“Scottish Government’s National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch highlighted the role the results will play in helping to plan for the re-opening of dental services. Professor Leitch and the First Minister thanked dental teams for their efforts at this time.”
Dentistry teams at the University of Dundee have played a significant role in dental guidance development and shaping UK policy throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. University teams have continued to work with SDCEP, of which Professor Janet Clarkson is Director, to publish and update guidelines for safe practice.
An SDCEP published resource titled? Management of Acute Dental Problems During COVID-19 Pandemic has been recognised worldwide. The document, which was published in March, has been viewed over 80,000 times with a quarter of them in a 24-hour period.
Professor Janet Clarkson is Director of Effective Dental Practice Programme and Co-Director of the Dental Health Services Research Unit at the University. She is also a founding member of the Cochrane Oral Health Group and is Joint Co-ordinating Editor. She is currently Director of the Scottish Clinical Effectiveness Programme and the Scottish Dental Practice Based Research Network and is NES lead at Dundee Dental Education Centre.
Dr Thomas Lamont is Clinical Research Fellow/ Honorary Specialty Training Registrar in Restorative Dentistry at the University of Dundee’s School of Dentistry. He is also a clinical editor and systematic reviewer at Cochrane Oral Health and a member of the Scottish Dental Practice Based Research Network (SDPBRN) Steering Committee promoting the implementation of evidence-based practice in Scotland.