Alyn Morgan explains the thinking behind the new BES Covid-19 research grant

Alyn Morgan BChD MSc MFDTEd, a GDC Registered Specialist in Endodontics, Director of U Dentistry Ltd in Ilkley, a Senior Clinical Teaching Fellow in Restorative Dentistry, and Honorary Secretary of the British Endodontic Society, explains the thinking behind the new BES Covid-19 research grant and calls for research to address the impact of Aerosol Generating Procedures in dentistry with respect to Covid-19.

To say that UK dentistry has undergone a monumental upheaval in recent months is a considerable understatement. New words and phrases have entered the dental lexicon which now form part of our lingua franca – it is almost impossible to look at dental social media sites, watch webinars or even have simple conversations with colleagues without “donning”, “doffing”, “FFP3”, “AGP” and “fallow time” being omnipresent.

Whilst the way we do dentistry has changed since our welcome return to clinical practice on June 8th some of the changes are relatively minor and in line with broader societal measures, such as no shaking hands with patients and maintaining a 2-metre distance from colleagues where possible being the most obvious. Other changes have made a huge difference and are affecting the financial viability of dental practices.

The increased concern over AGPs (aerosol generating procedures) and the requirement to leave surgeries fallow for a period after such a procedure is carried out is without question a threat to the ongoing survival of independent primary dental practices and indeed to many of our secondary care and teaching environments. The requirement to leave a surgery empty, not generating income for up to an hour following even the simplest of restorative procedures, presents an impossible barrier to the delivery of efficient and cost-effective dental care. Adding the requirements of enhanced PPE and the need for longer decontamination times the problem is compounded to the extent that it is impossible to consider that, at the time of writing, just a week into reopening, that any UK dental practices are operating other than at a considerable loss.

What makes this situation all the more unpalatable is that the evidence that these business defining guidelines are based on is weak or in many cases non-existent. Early on in the process it was apparent that many of the

decisions taken by Public Health England and NHS England were based on the medical experience where AGPs are different – even the use of the word aspiration, which in the dental context is a very strong mitigator for AGPs, was conflated leading to the suggestion that aspiration was something to be avoided.

Given the need to act and provide guidance in the presence of a weak evidence base, it was inevitable that the recommendations from those who regulate dentistry would be highly conservative, correctly placing a premium on patient safety. However, if dental practices are unable to operate viably then the nation’s dental health will suffer and patients will not be able to access the care they need. It is clear that we need to operate both safely and effectively; to do so we need access to good evidence that backs up our practice.

It was against this backdrop that the British Endodontic Society recently took the decision to issue a research call to consider the science behind AGPs in dental practice and what steps can be taken to identify and then mitigate the risk in the current COVID19 pandemic to allow both practitioners, regulators and, most of all, patients to take comfort that we are working in the most appropriate way possible.

The BES has made up to £40,000 available for this research call and looks forward to working with academic institutions to undertake a truly translational approach to this problem. We also welcome the opportunity to collaborate with any others in the dental community (for example, other professional societies and bodies or businesses in the dental equipment or supply trades) to ensure we can work together and provide, very quickly, much needed answers to the problems we currently face on this issue.

Mouth Cancer Foundation announces Support Group Award Grant recipients

The Mouth Cancer Foundation has presented three awards in its annual Mouth Cancer Foundation Support Group Awards. 

BrushUpUK, a charity based in Gloucestershire, won a £2,000 grant. They believe that everyone should have the knowledge, skills and access to maintain a good standard of oral health. 

Gloucestershire-based charity, BrushUpUK, won a £2,000 grant

BrushUpUK’s Founder Megan Thomas said: “BrushUpUK is very grateful to be honoured with such a prestigious award. This generous donation of £2,000 from the Mouth Cancer Foundation will enable us  to provide patients with a toolkit necessary to help deal with debilitating symptoms of cancer treatment and to continue contributing towards free oral health advice to patients who have completed their initial Head & Neck cancer treatment enabling their transition back in to general practice.” 

Preston and Chorley Laryngectomee Association received a £1,000 grant

Preston and Chorley Laryngectomee Association received a £1,000 grant to continue to help serve patients who have had a laryngectomy operation in the Lancashire, South Cumbria and Fylde Coast areas.  Group Leader Kim Winterton says “Preston and Chorley Laryngectomee Association is very grateful to be honoured with such a prestigious award. This generous donation of £1,000 from the Mouth Cancer Foundation will enable us to help integrate patients back into society after life a changing operation, and also provide boogie boards.” 

The £500 bronze award went to Blackpool-based Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Charity

The £500 bronze award went to Blackpool-based Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Charity.  This award was sponsored by Irwin Mitchell.   The Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Charity is known as such because a lot of the difficulty a lot of people have with swallowing.  The organisation is designed to provide 24/7 helpline support to patients and carers.   Founder Chris Curtis says “We are very grateful to be honoured with such a prestigious award. This generous donation of £500 from the Mouth Cancer Foundation will enable us to create a unique 24/7 patient / carer support line.”

The Mouth Cancer Foundation Support Group Awards are designed to reward the incredible work that support groups across the country carry out on a daily basis. The Awards recognise the support group leaders and healthcare professionals, who give up their spare time to support and work closely with people affected by head and neck cancers.

Support groups have become a lifeline mouth cancer patients.  They are often a place where they can share their experiences, and ask questions in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. It is also a place where carers, relatives and friends can go for help and advice. The Mouth Cancer Foundation recognises the impact that the support groups have and how they can help improve a patient’s quality of life. In order to show their appreciation, the charity is rewarding organisations with innovative and unique support services with a variety of grant amounts.

Dentist and President of the Mouth Cancer Foundation Dr Philip Lewis says “To be able to recognise and reward these organisations and the work that they do, caring and supporting people with head and neck cancer is incredibly important. The judges were looking for evidence that the support group offers the opportunity to communicate experiences, improves patient services and tackles the consequences of head and neck cancer treatments. We felt that BrushUpUK embodied all of these qualities and therefore decided to award them a grant.”

Four shortlisted organisations each received £100 grants.  For more information on the Mouth Cancer Foundation Support Group Awards visit

BES announces new Covid-19 research grant

The British Endodontic Society (BES) has announced a new research grant of up to £40,000 in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic. The Society is inviting proposals from UK-based applicants wishing to undertake short-term research that addresses or mitigates the impacts of Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“The impact of Covid-19 on dentistry has been significant and as we begin to return to the ‘new normal’, we face a complex and evolving situation” said Dr Sanjeev Bhanderi, BES President. “There is an abundance of guidance available, but a common theme is the lack of robust evidence to guide the adoption of behaviours in practice. Many questions surround AGPs in dental practice and the interaction of these with Covid-19 so the BES is investing in research that will lead to a better understanding” he finished.

Applicants do not need to be BES members and the closing date for submissions is 15 July 2020. The application process is outlined on the BES website and all applications will be considered by the BES research panel appointed by the BES Council. Due to the immediacy of this research, the successful applicant will be notified by July 31st 2020.

Eklund Foundation for Odontological Research and Education open for applications during May 2020

Applications for grants from Eklund Foundation are accepted on the website from 1 – 31 May. Funds of EUR 200,000 have been allocated for distribution in 2020.

Experimental and clinical studies within all fields of dentistry are welcome, though projects that can be related to periodontology, implantology or cariology will be prioritised. Applicants may apply for funding for part of a project or a project in its entirety. The successful projects will be announced in the autumn of 2020.

The Eklund Foundation was created through a donation from the Eklund family, owners of TePe Oral Hygiene Products, in celebration of their long-standing relationship with the professional dental community. The foundation will now distribute grants for the fifth year running. 

Projects supported in previous years include, for example, studies in periodontology and implantology carried out in Italy, the Netherlands, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA. More information on previous projects can be found on the website.