PATIENTS may have to wait outside or in their car and put personal belongings in a box as part of new safety measures for the re-opening of dental practices in Fife.

They'll be faced with perspex screens and staff in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), while they'll be asked to use an alcohol hand gel before being allowed into the chair.

It's all to keep patients and staff safe as, following the move into phase two of the Scottish Government’s route map out of lockdown, many practices prepare to open for those needing urgent dental care.

Dr Emma O’Keefe, the interim director of dentistry in Fife, said: “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.”

NHS Fife has been helping to ensure practices have enough PPE and said the need for some internal changes may mean not all dental surgeries will be open initially.

Patients will be advised in advance and will also notice considerable differences in the way services are delivered.

They may be asked to wait outside the building and, once inside, will have to clean their hands thoroughly with alcohol hand gel.

They will also be asked to attend alone, unless the appointment is for a child or a person with additional needs who requires support.

A statement from NHS Fife said: "To maintain social distancing, practices will make very limited use of reception areas and these will be wiped down and disinfected much more regularly.

"Ahead of treatment, patients may be asked to put any personal belongings in a box whilst your treatment takes place.

"Perhaps the most visible change will be that the dental team caring for patients will be wearing additional Personal Protective Equipment including masks and full face visors."

It added: "Importantly, the full range of dental treatment will not be available initially with aerosol-generating procedures, such as the use of the high-speed drill or ultrasonic scaling, restricted for the time being.

"Furthermore, treatment may take a little longer than usual due to the additional precautions in place, meaning it is even more important that patients arrive on time for appointment.

"Once the treatment is complete, if payment is required then patients are asked to use card payment wherever possible."

While practices prepare for full re-opening, NHS Fife is continuing to provide 10 urgent dental care centres.

Anyone requiring urgent dental care should still contact their own dentist first, who can refer on to an urgent dental care centre if required.

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