Dental services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Local dental services update

NHS General Dental Services (GDS) are operating at significantly reduced capacity due to social distancing, infection prevention and control requirements in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has led to a backlog of unmet need, delayed and suspended treatments.
Most dental practices are open and able to safely provide a full range of treatments, but are having to prioritise patients with urgent need and delayed treatments over routine and non-urgent dental care.

What if I need an appointment?

Most dental practices have to have up to one-hour gaps between patients if they are providing treatments, to maintain a safe environment for patients and staff. This means that available appointments are in short supply. If you are unable to make your appointment please let the practice know as soon as possible as they may be able to book in another patient who has been waiting for care.

All patients should call the dental practice for triage and advice if seeking dental care. The practice will then either provide advice or make an appointment if treatment is necessary. If the practice has capacity and the issue is not urgent you may be offered a routine appointment, though this will vary from practice to practice based on their capacity and existing patient need.

Urgent dental care

While general dental services were closed treatments were only accessible from urgent dental care centres, accessed by patients calling NHS 111 and being referred by the dental triage service. These services are still in operation. If you do not routinely attend a practice, have an urgent need and are unable to find a local practice which has capacity then you may be directed by a dental practice to call NHS 111 to speak to the dental triage service. If the triage service finds the issue is urgent they will arrange an appointment at the urgent dental care centre.

If you require more complex treatments that cannot be provided by your dentist, such as some root canal treatments, these may be further delayed as the services that general dental practitioners refer into are also managing a backlog of patients from when they were closed and an increase of new patients whose oral health care was not managed while practices were closed.