DENTAL practices have been given the go-ahead to reopen next week – but it will be a long time until they will be running at full capacity.

Since lockdown was announced, many people have been anxious about the lack of dental care and until recently it was unclear when it would be available.

The Government has now announced that practices can re-open on Monday, with safety measures in place.

Paul Rowlands, of Derwent Dental Care in Cockermouth, said: “It’s a relief to be given the go-ahead to re-open and provide our patients with the level of care they’re used to although things will be a little different for a while.

“Our practice will be opening on that day but it will not be business as usual from day one. It will take some time before services return to what people previously experienced as normal.

“We will have to start slowish, with lots of measures in place, and then build up over time.”

The practice has five dentists and three hygienists. Each dentist will have two surgeries to work in, so that while a patient is being treated in one the other can be cleaned.

“From Monday, we will be treating those patients who called us during the lockdown with a problem and patients who were part way through treatments that included laboratory work,” said Mr Rowlands.

“The following week we will be starting to treat patients who have outstanding treatment from before the lockdown. We will also start to offer a hygienist service.

“From June 22 we will start to offer examinations.

“Our community has been through a lot over the last few months, and all of us are looking forward to resuming our normal habits and routines. While many things have changed, one thing has remained the same: our commitment to safety.”

All practices will be following current infection control procedures.

“Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients,” said Mr Rowlands. “We will no longer offer magazines, children’s toys and so forth, since those items are difficult to clean and disinfect.”

Mark Fortune, of Lismore House Practice, in Carlisle, is delighted to finally be able to see patients.

“It’s been frustrating, I have a list of about 30 people that I have been speaking to at various stages during the past 10 weeks.

“I have only been able to provide them with antibiotics and advice so am ecstatic than I can finally help them with their problems,” he said.

“We will have an emergency service to start with, dealing with problems that have built up over the past few weeks, then go from there.”

There will be no reception area and only one patient allowed in the practice at a time.

Mr Fortune will alternate between two surgeries.

“We have invested in more advanced PPE and will have procedures in place to minimise social interaction,” he said.