New safety measures are being introduced at Fife’s dental surgeries before they reopen for urgent treatments.
Vital protective equipment will be made available to all staff and patients have been warned there will be considerable differences to the way services are delivered.
Dental teams will wear additional PPE, including masks and full-face visors, and patients will be asked to attend alone unless the appointment is for a child or someone with additional needs who requires support.
On arrival, patients may be asked to wait outside or in their car until they are called to enter.
Once inside, they will have to cleanse their hands thoroughly with alcohol hand gel.
New perspex screens have been installed in many practices to provide additional protection, while very limited use will be made of reception areas to ensure social distancing.
These areas will be wiped down and disinfected regularly.
Ahead of treatment, patients may be asked to put any personal belongings in a box.
NHS Fife, which has been working closely with practices to help them prepare to reopen safely, said not all dental treatments would initially be available, including the use of the high speed drill and ultrasonic scaling.
Treatment may take a little longer than usual due to the additional precautions in place and patients will be asked to pay by card.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week that dentists could begin to reopen for urgent care as part of phase two of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown.
As some practices will have to make adjustments to their physical environment, not all will reopen immediately.
During the transition to full reopening, NHS Fife will continue to provide an urgent dental care service in 10 urgent care centres across the region.
Those requiring urgent care should contact their own dentist in the first instance.
Dr Emma O’Keefe, consultant in dental public health and interim director of dentistry in Fife, said: “Dental practices across Fife have been working incredibly hard over recent weeks to put in place the measures necessary to protect patients and staff and help reduce the spread of coronavirus in our communities.
“Dental practices, much like other healthcare services, will be operating very differently than they will have done previously.
“This is vital if practices are to operate safely and we have every confidence that local people will support these changes over the coming weeks and months.
“Most importantly, patients should be assured that if they require urgent dental treatment then they will continue to receive the same high standard of care they have come to expect.”