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Professor Mike Lewis on Dentistry and Coronavirus

A dentist has warned the environment he is working in is like "coronavirus heaven" as he said he does "not foresee" a return to normal any time soon.

All routine and non-urgent care in Wales was suspended in March due to the coronavirus outbreak and many community dental practices are doing consultations over the phone.

Professor Mike Lewis, who is a dentist and professor at Cardiff University and works at the emergency clinic at University Hospital of Wales Dental Hospital told ITV Wales "people are still presenting in the same way before COVID-19."

"The dental environment is coronavirus heaven because it is present in saliva and a lot of the dental equipment like a drill or an ultrasonic scaler create what are called aerosols and that's spraying the virus, if it's present, into the room's atmosphere. It will stay present for many hours", he said.

He described it as "an absolute nightmare" in terms of trying to keep safe while treating patients.

Surgeries are still taking calls if there is a dental emergency to help anybody who might need help with their teeth at this time.

"The community dentist is still providing advice, pain relief and antibiotics but there will come a time when the teeth will need to be extracted," said Professor Lewis.

"There are more teeth being taken out now than if we were would be if we had full access to a full range of dental treatment."

"I do not foresee an early return to normal dentistry."

The risk of cross-infection is high at a dental surgery, but equipment is available to make the atmosphere safe for patients and dental staff.

Professor Lewis said this is why dentistry is going to be one of the areas of medicine that is going to "find it very difficult to return to normal because of the aerosol generation."

"There is some equipment available which will be able to clean the atmosphere in the surgery."

It's like sneezing a thousand times over.