The last few weeks have seen some significant changes in the provision of dental services across the UK. If you are currently in treatment, you would have been contacted by your practice to advise you to stay away and to follow advice about looking after your brace until the practice re-opens.
Most dental procedures generate some fine droplets (aerosol) and this is a means by which coronavirus could be spread. If your brace is being adjusted, removal of the elastic rings on each bracket can flick saliva quite a distance and using any form of powered tool such as a burr which is used to remove glue will also generate aerosol.
Dental staff do not have the full range of protective equipment available to those working in the hospital environment so the risks of spreading the virus are higher. Due to the close proximity to patients dental teams generally work in, this also increases the risks. It is for these reasons, and following Government, NHS and Public Health advice, all practices closed to help stop the spread of the virus.
Whilst it is frustrating for patients keen to progress with treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean their treatment will take longer. For those patients wearing aligners, they would have been advised to continue wearing their aligners and any subsequent ones already provided thereby progressing with treatment. For those with a fixed brace, the wire and elastics will continue working for a while although it will reach a point when the brace does not progress your treatment until it has been adjusted.
All the practices I have spoken to have kept in regular contact with their patients and have provided information about how to look after braces at home. This has included information on how to resolve simple braces problems and how to avoid them in the first place. The dental teams have helped patients where they can by providing advice and support including consultations by video and sending patients essential supplies such as wax and elastics.
Dental teams are keen to return to their practices and to start seeing patients again although it is unlikely to be business as usual for a while. No one can estimate when practices will be allowed to open again and once they do, they will probably need to prioritise the patients they see first.
My advice would be to follow their advice, and to do everything you can to avoid damaging your brace.