Smile Together are proud that our Harleigh Road Dental Centre in Bodmin and Brighter Dental practice in St Mary’s Hospital on the Isles of Scilly were chosen by NHS England as the first Urgent Dental Care Hubs for the county, closely followed by a third Hub at Truro Health Park.
However, in line with national guidance, these hubs can only treat patients with the highest level of emergency dental need.
What constitutes emergency need:
- Severe trauma to teeth (e.g. tooth knocked out) and/or facial skeleton (which may require onward referral to Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust)
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Dental infection/fever/swelling that hasn’t responded to antibiotics or analgesia (especially if this might affect the airway)
It is highly unlikely that any patients with a lesser emergency will be able to be treated until further Urgent Care Dental Services are open and we thank patients for their understanding at this time.
How to access treatment:
Patients need to be referred by their usual dentist or if they don’t have one they should call 0333 405 0290 but must understand that treatment options at this time are very limited.
Dentists can find the referral form here.
Patients must not, under any circumstances, simply turn up and hope to be seen – you will not have access to the practice unless we are expecting you and will not be seen. This tightly managed referral and treatment process ensures stringent safety measures are in place to protect both our frontline teams and our patients during COVID-19. This also means we cannot see more than a handful of patients each day.
The telephone triage service that Smile Together put in place in the very early stages of the pandemic, with our dentists triaging patients to make sure that only those who genuinely need this face-to-face treatment are seen, continues to play an important part in supporting patients. This not only provides reassurance but, working in partnership with local pharmacies, ensures patients have access to appropriate pain relief, antibiotics and analgesia.
There is also very useful information, advice and guidance on our Patient Information Zone to help patients and their families look after their oral health whilst at home.
For young children referred to our Urgent Dental Care Hub:
The experience will be very different to what patients may be used to when visiting the dentist and young children especially may be frightened by seeing our clinicians in full PPE. This ‘Dentist Superhero poem’ is worth sharing with them prior to arrival.
According to NHS England: “We’re really pleased to get these dental centres up and running, so people have somewhere to turn to for urgent care when their own dentist’s doors are shut. These are difficult times for everyone, patients and dentists alike, and we apologise if anyone has been struggling to get treatment in recent weeks. I’m grateful to all those providers such as Smile Together who have worked so hard to build a new service from scratch in such a short time”.
Like most dental providers nationally, Smile Together experienced some extraordinarily frustrating delays which delayed the opening of these Urgent Dental Care Hubs, as Dental Director Dr Jonathan Bouwer-Davies explains: “Having ordered FFP3 masks at the end of February the national shortage delayed our deliveries, we had difficulties in receiving fit test training as the local hospitals were rightfully prioritising intensive care and emergency departments and we were then awaiting the appropriate clean down agents to ensure that we could offer a safe service for our patients and colleagues. Our sincere thanks go to other Cornish dentists and Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust for helping us source what we needed in order to start treating patients and in the end we mobilised days ahead of schedule”.
A number of other dentists, hygienists and nurses have very generously come forward offering to support emergency patient care from the hubs at this time and Smile Together very much appreciates these kind offers of help. As NHS England develops its guidance during this pandemic so will opportunities emerge for more clinicians to provide patient care at this time.