Ray of hope: Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccination approved in UK

The UK has become the first question to approve one of the several Covid-19 vaccines in development. The Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine has been approved by UK regulator the MHRA, which has concluded that the vaccination is 95% effective in protecting against the Coronavirus, and that it is safe to be rolled out.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has stated that the first 800,000 doses will be available from next week, with the elderly, those in care homes and some NHS staff being given priority. Mr Hancock added that people should wait to be contacted by the NHS regarding vaccination.

The UK had already ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab while it was in development, which will be enough to vaccinate up to 20 million people, as two doses are required three weeks apart, with the second injection serving as a booster to increase the vaccine’s effectiveness.

Several million doses are expected to be given during December, with the majority of the British public receiving the jab in the new year. The hope is that life can resume some semblance of normality by the summer of 2021.

The vaccine will be made available through a combination of hospitals, vaccination centres (set up in the same manner as the Nightingales project), and in the community via GPs and pharmacists. Whether NHS dentists will be called into action remains yet to be seen.

Either way, this is incredibly positive news for us all after what has been an extremely trying year. As preparations begin for what NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens describes as “the largest-scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history”, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

Mouth cancer referrals plummet by a third since start of pandemic

The Oral Health Foundation is calling for urgent action around cancer diagnosis, following new data that shows mouth cancer referrals have fallen by a third (33%) since the beginning of the pandemic. 

New figures collected from seven NHS Trust Hospitals across the UK, reveals the number of people being referred for possible mouth cancer fell from 2,257 in the six months prior to March 2020, to 1,506 in the six months after March 2020.

In total, six out of the seven NHS Trusts saw mouth cancer referrals tumble during this time, with two hospitals in Wales recording a 47% drop in referrals – the most in the UK.

In Northern Ireland, mouth cancer referrals have fallen by 36% since the beginning of the pandemic while England and Scotland have seen decreases of 31% and 30%, respectively.

Many mouth cancers are spotted in the early stages by a dentist during a routine check-up.  With Covid-19 limiting dental practice activity to 20% of normal activity, the Oral Health Foundation is deeply concerned that many people with early stages of mouth cancer are going undiagnosed.

In the absence of seeing health professionals face-to-face, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation highlights the importance of self-checks at home and knowing how to spot mouth cancer in the early stages.

Dr Carter says: “Regular dental check-ups and GP appointments are the main routes for identifying the early stages of mouth cancer.  We fear that without access to dental and wider health professionals, that many mouth cancer cases will go undiagnosed.

“A person’s quality of life after being treated for mouth cancer, as well as their chances of beating the disease, is highly dependent on the time of diagnosis.  By allowing so many potential mouth cancers to go untreated, there is a real danger of more people losing their life to the disease.

“While dental and GP visits remain disrupted it is important that everybody knows how to check themselves for mouth cancer. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your dental practice, who will be able to see you as an emergency patient.”

Mouth cancer can appear on the tongue, tonsils, gums and lips.  It can also be found on the roof and floor of the mouth, as well as the head and neck.

Mouth ulcers lasting three weeks, red or white patches in the mouth, or unusual lumps and swellings, are the typically early warning signs.  Persistent hoarseness can also be a symptom.

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on dental access in the UK.  Research by the Oral Health Foundation shows that more than half (56%) of UK adults claim to have had dental check-ups postponed or cancelled.

During this time, one-in-six (16%) have experienced at least one of the potential early warning signs of the disease.

Meanwhile, the British Dental Association estimate a 10 million backlog of appointments due to dental practices being forced to shut down during the pandemic.

Dr Catherine Rutland, Clinical Director at Denplan, part of Simplyhealth, believes it is crucial that dental practices remain open during the remainder of the pandemic.

Dr Rutland says: “Dentists continue to play a vital role in identifying mouth cancer at routine check-ups.  However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, access to dentistry was severely curtailed and opportunities to catch mouth cancer early will have been missed. If mouth cancer is spotted early, the chances of a complete cure are good.

“The Foundation’s recent research has revealed that nearly four in 10 people reported encountering an issue and being unable to see or get advice from their dentist because of the current limited access to dentistry caused by the pandemic.  Keeping practices open from now on is vitally important to help ensure the early detection of mouth cancer. It could save thousands of lives.”

Stuart Caplan was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2012.  The husband and father-of-one from Marble Arch, lost two-thirds of his tongue to the disease but says acting quickly was key for him beating the disease.

Stuart says: “Mouth cancer is a hidden cancer, unlike a lot of cancers where there are obvious symptoms.  People think ‘oh it’s only a mouth ulcer, it’ll pass’.  It’s easy to just put a mouth ulcer treatment on and ignore it, and without visiting a dentist regularly it’s likely to get missed.

“If it’s not normal for you, get it checked immediately, especially you have had something for a few weeks. Cancer symptoms don’t go away. That’s the litmus test.  Go and see a dentist or hygienist.”

Figures collected by the Oral Health Foundation show that 8,722 people in the UK were diagnosed with the disease last year, increasing by 97% since 2000.

Mouth cancer cases in the UK have soared for the 11th year in a row and have more than doubled within the last generation.

It is also vital that government issues updated advice about fallow periods for dental practices. Some practices are still working to the original one-hour fallow period, while others have reduced their time between patients.  More frequent communication and direction is needed.


  • Oral Health Foundation (2020) ‘State of Mouth Cancer UK Report 2020/21’ Published November 2020, online at www.mouthcancer.org.
  • Mouth cancer referral data was collected from; NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Bwrdd Lechyd Prifysgol Aneurin Bevan, NHS Birmingham Community Healthcare Foundation Trust, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, NHS Wye Valley NHS Trust, and NHS South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Sara Hurley confirms NHS dental services will continue during new lockdown

Sara Hurley, Chief Dental Officer for England, has issued her latest NHS dentistry and oral health update, covering recent announcements and links to current guidance and relevant publications. 

The update has been sent out “in light of the Prime Minister’s announcement that from Thursday [5th November] England will enter a period of further national restrictions until 2 December.”

The bulletin includes confirmation from Chief Dental Officer for England that during the period of tighter restrictions dental services will remain open for face-to-face care. This includes delivery of both aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) and non-aerosol generating procedures. Dental care is to be delivered in line with the principles set out Transition to Recovery SOP published 27 Oct 2020 and with regard to the recently updated national infection prevention control and the accompanying dental appendix. Priority remains focussed on patients who require access to urgent care, patients at higher risk of oral disease, and patients with outstanding treatment needs that cannot be delayed. All dental practices should continue to provide remote consultations with triage and advice as necessary options. Dental practices will be asked to maintain their support to their local UDC system (face to face as well as remote).  Co-ordination of the local UDC system lies with the NHS Local Area Team and all practices are encouraged to remain in close contact with their area teams.  The principles for UDC systems and provision of urgent dental care are set out in the revised UDC SOP published 27 Oct 2020

The CDO explains: “The government’s guidance states that “a number of public services will also stay open and you will be able to leave home to visit them. These include […] the NHS and medical services like GPs

“I can confirm that this includes NHS dental services. Therefore, during the period of tighter restrictions practices should remain open to treat patients in line with the standard operating procedure and with regard to the recently updated national infection prevention control dental appendix. Detail on both of these were shared in last week’s update and are repeated below.”

Read more here.

New Covid-19 infection prevention and control dental guidance published

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), along with Public Health Wales (PHW), Public Health Agency (PHA) Northern Ireland, Health Protection Scotland (HPS), Public Health Scotland, Public Health England and NHS England, has released new Covid-19 infection prevention and control dental guidance.

This newly published UK IPC Guidance has been developed for dental settings, and has been considered and incorporated into the latest revision of the office of CDO’s SOPs, which will be published imminently.

Whilst this guidance seeks to ensure a consistent and resilient UK wide approach, some differences in operational details and organisational responsibilities may apply in Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland.

It is also noted that this guidance is of a general nature and that an employer should consider the specific conditions of each individual place of work and comply with all applicable legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The guidance is available to read here.

BDA: Dentists facing uphill struggle, as missed appointments top 14 million

The British Dental Association has warned dentists face an uphill struggle to restore services unless government is willing to support costs for new equipment that could radically expand patient access, as the number of missed appointments hits over 14 million.

Official data on activity seen by the BDA indicates treatments delivered by NHS dental services in England are at a quarter of pre-Covid levels, and have only begun to inch above typical demand for urgent care, which is currently receiving priority. Over 14.5 million fewer treatments have been delivered in 2020 compared to the same period last year.

Dentists have been required to maintain 60-minute windows between patients after an Aerosol Generating Procedure (AGP) to minimise risks of viral transmission, contributing to this dramatic fall in patient volumes.  Recent recommendations by the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) – which are widely anticipated to inform official guidance across the UK – could reduce this ‘fallow period’ to as little as 10 minutes where dentists can demonstrate a sufficient number of air changes per hour (ACH) in their surgeries.

The BDA has stressed that if practices – both NHS and private – are required to make changes to adhere to new official advice, then government will need to provide financial support.

Progress will require many of the UK’s 12,000 practices to undergo an on-site survey by ventilation engineers. With practices already struggling to remain financially sustainable the BDA has stressed the government must show willingness underwrite this work and offer commitments for capital funding for necessary equipment.

Practices will likely require mechanical ventilation, fitted internally or externally, with ducting as required, with those with surgeries without natural ventilation like windows facing significant challenges. It has been over a decade since dental services In England received any form of direct capital investment. Corporate provider MyDentist recently announced a £1.25m fund to reduce fallow time to 20 minutes in the 600 practices in their group.

The BDA anticipate many patients with untreated decay will end up requiring more extensive and costly interventions as result of limited access to dental services. Oral cancers – which kill more Britons every year than car accidents – are also going undetected in the absence of routine check-ups.

BDA Chair Eddie Crouch said: “Dentist are facing an uphill struggle to restore services and get on top of an ever-growing backlog. New rules could offer some hope, but only if government is willing to show leadership. If practices are going to get more patients back through their doors, it will hinge on support to invest in new kit.

“Until we see commitments, dentists will be fighting a losing battle, as early signs of decay are missed, and oral cancers go undetected.”

FGDP(UK) & CGDent COVID guidance update reduces fallow times

The Faculty of General Dental Practice UK and College of General Dentistry have updated their guidance on the implications of Covid-19 for the safe management of general dental practice, incorporating the reduced ‘fallow’ times recommended by the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme.

The guidance, first published on 1 June, supports dental professionals to take a risk-based approach to providing safe care, whatever the national Covid-19 threat level, at each step of the patient journey.

Among the distinguishing features of the document was its consideration of the risk of exposure to potentially-infectious aerosols arising from dental procedures as being on a continuum, rather than defining some procedures as ‘non-AGPs’ and treating all ‘AGPs’ as if they carry equal risk.

Members of the guidance task group felt compelled at the time to accept the 60-minute fallow period recommended by Public Health England following higher risk procedures. However, they also felt it would be more appropriate to adopt a more nuanced approach which also considered the length of procedure, as well as the potential to employ procedural and environmental risk mitigations, and suggested that reduced fallow times based on such factors might be justified.

The SDCEP review of aerosol-generating procedures in dentistry, published last week, takes just such factors into account in recommending context-specific fallow periods of between 10 and 30 minutes. While the FGDP-CGDent guidance has been thoroughly reviewed in light of the latest evidence and the experience of dental practices over the last four months, the most significant change is therefore the adoption of SDCEP’s fallow time recommendations, which have also been incorporated in an accompanying Fallow Time Calculator, which will be launched soon.

SDCEP’s review also divides dental procedures into groups according to their potential to generate aerosols, and to avoid any confusion over which procedures require fallow time, the FGDP and CGDent have ensured that those they classify in their guidance as posing a ‘higher exposure risk’ correspond to SDCEP’s highest-risk ‘Group A’ categorisation.

Available free of charge at https://www.fgdp.org.uk/implications-covid-19-safe-management-general-dental-practice-practical-guide and https://cgdent.uk/standards-guidance, the revised document also provides additional detail and updated guidance on:

  • air ventilation and air cleaners
  • the use of the 3 in 1 syringe
  • the risk of aerosolisation from dental handpieces
  • decontamination of the surgery
  • the relevance of the R number and prevalence rate
  • the protection of vulnerable staff

Dental professionals are invited to learn more by joining two related webinars, which will be free to view live through Prodental. On Monday 5 October at 7pm, representatives of FGDP, SDCEP, the BDA and the Office of the CDO for England will discuss The Mitigation of Aerosol Generating Procedures in Dentistry, and on Monday 19 October, Mythbusters 2 will look at the latest changes and challenges of COVID-19 in light of the recommendations of SDCEP, FGDP and CGDent.

Onkar Dhanoya FFGDP(UK), Vice Dean of FGDP(UK) and Chair of the task group which developed and revised the guidance, said: Our revised guidance, incorporating the fallow time recommendations arising from SDCEP’s thorough review of evidence on the generation and mitigation of aerosols in dentistry, will enable general dental practices to increase delivery of patient care while maintaining the safety of both patients and members of the dental team. This in turn should help improve access to dentistry, addressing some of the unmet oral health need which has built up in recent months, and support the viability of dental practices as the pandemic continues. Thanks are due to all the members of the task group, which represents a huge range of organisations and professional disciplines, for once again pulling together for the benefit of our profession at this critical time.”

FGDP(UK) & CGDent to update Covid-19 guidance following SDCEP AGP review

The Faculty of General Dental Practice UK and College of General Dentistry have welcomed the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme’s review of the mitigation of aerosol-generating procedures, and will be issuing updated COVID-19 guidance shortly in view of its recommendations.

The SDCEP document, published today, represents the agreed positions of a working group comprising dental professionals from across primary care, secondary care, academia and public health, in addition to expert opinion from subject specialists in particle physics, aerobiology and clinical virology. The consensus report was compiled following a review of the currently-available evidence on the generation and mitigation of aerosols in dental practice, and the associated risk of coronavirus transmission.

Among the key positions, and in contrast to those adopted to date in official protocols, the report divides dental procedures into three categories of aerosol generation potential according to the instruments used, with fallow periods recommended only for the highest risk procedures, and suggests the determination of fallow time using a multifactorial approach with a ‘benchmark’ of 15-30 minutes.

The FGDP-CGDent guidance, published in June, also set out a more nuanced approach to considering the generation of aerosols in dental practice, and while allowing for potential adjustment of fallow time, accepted a 60 minute period following procedures carrying a higher risk of exposure to potentially-infective aerosols.

Ian Mills, Dean of FGDP(UK), Trustee of CGDent and a member of the SDCEP’s review group, said: “SDCEP’s review of dental AGPs has been extremely thorough, and followed a rigorous and methodical approach. Its publication is potentially a very significant moment in the recovery of dental practices in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and I commend the SDCEP Team for the hard work and dedication they have shown in producing this report.

“We welcome in particular the more refined stratification of the transmission risk inherent in types of dental procedure; the allowance for fallow time to be calculated from the cessation of the procedure; and the sophisticated approach to calculating fallow time, which considers both procedural and environmental mitigation factors such as high-volume suction, the use of rubber dam and provision of adequate air ventilation.

“These approaches align exceptionally well with our own guidance and we feel it is important that current standard operating procedures are reviewed in light of SDCEP’s recommendations. Adoption of these measures will enable the increased delivery of patient care to tackle the backlog of unmet need, and avoid further deterioration in dental access and oral health inequality. A reduction in fallow time will also support the viability of practices, while the maintenance of universal precautions will continue to keep both patients and members of the dental team safe.

“We aim to update our guidance as soon as possible, and are currently working with partners to develop an online Fallow Time Calculation Tool to support its implementation.”

SDCEP’s Mitigation of Aerosol Generating Procedures in Dentistry – A Rapid Review is available at https://www.sdcep.org.uk/published-guidance/covid-19-practice-recovery/rapid-review-of-agps.

The current FGDP-CGDent guidance, Implications of COVID-19 for the safe management of general dental practice – a practical guide, is available at https://www.fgdp.org.uk/implications-covid-19-safe-management-general-dental-practice-practical-guide and https://cgdent.uk/standards-guidance.

Government announces Job Support Scheme to replace furlough from 1 November

The government’s furlough scheme, brought in at the start of lockdown, has been a lifeline to many businesses and saved the livelihoods of millions. The furlough scheme comes to an end on 31 October and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has revealed that the new Job Support Scheme will replace it.

The Job Support Scheme will initially run for six months from 1 November until 1 May 2021. It is designed to top up the salaries of staff that businesses are unable to bring back into full-time work. Employees must work at least one-third of their regular contracted hours to be eligible. The government and employer will each pay one-third of the remaining wages to the staff member, meaning the employee takes home at least 77% of their pay. While at the height of the furlough scheme, the government paid 80% of workers’ wages, under the new scheme it will pay a maximum of 22%.

The Job Support Scheme is available to small and medium-sized businesses (often defined as organisations with 250 employees or fewer). Large businesses are also eligible so long as they can prove their revenue has fallen as a result of the pandemic.

Employees must have been on the firm’s payroll since 23 September and they can be moved on and off the scheme, or work different hours. Each working arrangement must cover at least seven days.
Workers cannot be made redundant or put on notice while a Jobs Support Scheme grant is being claimed on their behalf and, as with the furlough scheme, employers will be reimbursed by the government after the work has been done.

In addition, to further minimise unemployment, the UK government will also give firms:

  • £1,000 for every furloughed employee kept on until at least the end of January
  • £1,500 for every unemployed 16-24 year-old given a ”high quality” six-month work placement
  • £2,000 for each under-25 apprentice taken on until the end of January, or £1,500 for over-25s

Michael Copeland, senior area manager at Practice Plan parent company Wesleyan, the specialist financial mutual for dentists, commented on what the new scheme might mean for dental practices: “The Chancellor’s new measures will be welcome news for dental practitioners, many of whom are struggling to recover from impact of  lockdown. The Job Support Scheme announced today could help practices avoid redundancies and protect vital patient care services. It could also provide a further incentive for practices to bring back furloughed staff– supporting the profession’s efforts to resume a wider range of services.

“Extensions to the repayment terms of Bounce Back Loans and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will also help practices as they can keep essential cash in their business for longer. Together, steps like these will support the sector’s ongoing recovery – so essential to the wider wellbeing of the nation.”

Henry Schein Named to Fortune Magazine’s ‘Change the World’ List

Henry Schein, Inc. announced today that it has been named to Fortune magazine’s “Change the World” list, an annual ranking of companies that have had a positive social impact through activities that are part of their core business strategy. Henry Schein was recognised for its role in helping to create the Pandemic Supply Chain Network (PSCN), a public-private partnership aimed at saving lives by strengthening the resilience of the global health supply chain in response to pandemics. Henry Schein serves as the PSCN’s private sector lead.

The PSCN, co-founded by Henry Schein, is a public-private initiative that brings together the private sector and global organisations – including the World Health Organization, World Economic Forum, the United Nations World Food Programme, the World Bank, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, UNICEF, and approximately 60 health care manufacturers and suppliers – to embrace a common commitment to a cause. Since the PSCN’s inception, Henry Schein, as private sector lead, has worked intensively to develop a platform for data sharing, market visibility, and operational coordination for health care products to more effectively match global demand with global supply. The trust-based relationships built between sectors through the PSCN has been crucial in enabling the sharing of information and facilitating the ability of key stakeholders to navigate together the supply chain challenges caused by global pandemics.

“Henry Schein is driven by a sense of purpose and mission, and we are honoured to be named to Fortune magazine’s ‘Change the World’ list for our enduring commitment to these values,” said Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Schein. “Since our founding in 1932, Henry Schein has been guided by the belief that we can align our strengths as a business with the needs of society to make a positive difference. Through the Pandemic Supply Chain Network, we have had the opportunity to work with leaders from all sectors of society to help create a safer world through more effective pandemic preparedness and response.”

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2019, the PSCN has taken an active role in developing critical tools to strengthen the supply chain, including advocacy, procurement, and product recommendations. Henry Schein’s long-term leadership in the PSCN enabled the Company to deploy insights in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically advocating for and disseminating guidelines for proper usage of personal protective equipment (PPE) to promoting the judicious use of PPE. The Company’s collaboration with its PSCN partners reinforces Henry Schein’s commitment to public-private partnerships as a means of addressing complex societal issues.

Fortune magazine’s “Change the World” list celebrates companies and leaders that embrace corporate purpose and recognise how it can add value to business and society. Fortune evaluates the companies by measurable social impact, business results, degree of innovation, and corporate integration. To view the entire list, please visit: https://fortune.com/change-the-world/.

For more information, visit Henry Schein at www.henryschein.com, Facebook.com/HenrySchein, and @HenrySchein on Twitter.

New report reveals measures undertaken by the dental profession have aided post-Covid-19 recovery

Align Technology published results of a new survey revealing the measures taken and challenges faced by the dental profession in the United Kingdom during and post the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to the report, drawn together from a number of independent sources by Align Technology, the dental profession has risen to the challenge of treating patients throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with increased safety measures and a rise in virtual consultations compared with pre-Covid-19 times.

The report also finds that closing practices again during a potential second wave in the autumn could be detrimental to patient health. In a survey of dentists, therapist, hygienists and nurses working for the 600 mydentist group practices, 96 percent stated that lockdown has had an adverse impact on the nation’s oral health and that greater access to affordable dental care is needed. 88 percent of dental health experts surveyed said that the UK’s dental health could decline because a lack of routine appointments could lead to preventative dental issues getting worse1.

Those mydentist professionals surveyed suggested that there were missed opportunities to identify oral cancer which may cause significant long-term health issues. Over three quarters (77 percent) of those questioned are especially worried that oral cancers will be missed, and not referred onwards1. 1,700 members of the British Association of Private Dentists concur, nearly 97 percent of those surveyed are performing fewer oral cancer screens per day in comparison to their situation pre-lockdown2. Oral cancer specialist Professor Mike Lewis reported that where he normally receives 100 oral cancer referrals, over the same period of time, he received only three. Professor Lewis notes this underlines the need to ensure that patients have regular access to dental practices.

Over a quarter (41 percent) of dentists believe it will take between a year and 18-months for the UK’s oral health to return to ‘normal’ after the Covid-19 crisis1. The probable rise in the need for implants was a concern that was specifically raised. Dr. Guy Laffan, a dentist practicing in Wales, advised that he personally extracted 10 patients’ teeth post lockdown, and felt these could have been saved if his practice had remained open and treatment was accessible. Whilst London based, Dr. Gina Vega added that 35-40 of her patients had root canal issues during lockdown. Around half did not meet the criteria to be seen by the dental hubs and some had teeth extracted as a result. Dr. Vega expects a surge in the number of implants conducted over the coming months.

Positive news

Many positive findings also emerged.  The report suggests those patients who have been able to connect with a dentist virtually during the lockdown period had a positive experience. Patients who used a virtual clinic or telephone consultation had 97 percent and 94 percent satisfaction with their experience, respectively1. This suggests a future for the use of telehealth in dentistry as an aid for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

All dentists questioned agreed or strongly agreed that a teledentistry system would be very useful in saving time. Dr. Ben Atkins, president of the Oral Health Foundation, suggests teledentistry has improved the patient experience, with the use of virtual clinics and telephone consultations. Dr. Atkins recommends that dentists consider increasing their teledentistry offering to help reduce the risk of viral transmission and compliance with social distancing measures.

Adult orthodontics has also been identified as an opportunity for growth for practices post lockdown. Over three quarters (80 percent) of orthodontists in a new survey saw an increase in adult patients, and over half (60 percent), say this is due to heightened awareness of adult orthodontics. More than 15 percent of orthodontists say their adult patients are influenced by celebrities and bloggers. The majority of adult patients (85 percent) are in the 26 to 55 age bracket and female (80 percent).3

According to Dr. Mark Cronshaw, President of the Pandora Group*, the dental profession has led the way for stringent safety measures. While protective masks, gloves and clothing have always been the gold standard for patient and doctor protection, during lockdown, this lobbying organisation created a recommended 8-step protocol for reopening safely. This included evidence-based advice about the length of fallow time, air sterilisation, AGPs, rubber dam, PPE (levels of) suction technologies, and patient pre-treatment checks 4.

The protocol aims to reduce the risks associated with aerosol generating procedures down to around 0.1 percent risk, and cumulatively reduce the overall risk and impact on the provision of general dental practice. Additionally, while dentists have been advised that they should have a month’s worth of PPE in reserve in case of a second wave, no dentists questioned reported concerns about access to PPE, underlining how the profession’s forward planning measures are already in place. 4

Align Technology has committed $1 million to the Align Foundation to source and supply personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supply donations as well as making cash donations to the World Health Organisation in Europe. It is also using its 3D printing technology and manufacturing expertise to produce face shields and medical swaps to support the fight against Covid-19.

In addition, the company is supporting campaigns to help dentists and dentistry through sharing best practice, cooperating with leading associations, providing practical support for organisations and developing technologies to support the profession, including introducing virtual solutions to connect doctors and patients.  

Visit www.aligntech.com for more information.


1 Research conducted by mydentist amongst 600 dental practices

2 British Association of Private Dentists

3 British Orthodontic Society

4 The Pandora Group – * Pandora is an independent think tank founded in recognition of the need for evidence based best practice and guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Since the end of March, the group has been researching and pooling resources to create protocols enabling the profession to get back to treating the nation’s dental needs and how to open safely, sooner, access scarce PPE and save costs.