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The impact of COVID-19 on access to dental care

On 25 March 2020 access to general dental services was paused across the UK and dental care hubs were established to deliver urgent care as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal protective equipment (PPE), infection prevention and control, and patient prioritisation guidance were issued to dental care providers as services began to reopen in England from June 2020. This guidance further changed as the nation continued to navigate the pandemic and as wider restrictions were amended.

Although some access to dental services was maintained throughout subsequent lockdowns and changes in restrictions, there were longer-term impacts on access to dental services. These included the time needed to clear appointment backlogs, staff availability, physical distancing and PPE requirements, some of which still applied in February and March 2021, when the Adult Oral Health Survey (AOHS) was carried out. This survey gives an indication as to the impacts of COVID-19 on access to dental care.