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Over 1.3 million dental appointments have been postponed in Finland due to the coronavirus epidemic, according to YLE. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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THE EFFECTS of the coronavirus epidemic are felt also in the dental care sector of Finland, writes YLE.

The state of emergency declared over the epidemic last spring resulted in the winding down of non-urgent dental care and the re-assignment of dental care staff to roles related to fighting the epidemic, indicates an exhaustive report published last week by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

THL estimated in the report that the backlog in dental care increased by over 1.3 million appointments due to the cancellation of appointments with dental practitioners, oral hygienists and dental assistants.

While the pandemic has placed a burden especially on the capital regions, the waiting times for appointments have increased also in other parts of the country – even doubling or tripling in some. YLE on Monday wrote that about 100,000 patients are currently waiting in Helsinki, 30,000 in Vantaa and 60,000 in Espoo.

“There’s plenty of work for a very long time. There’s no way this can be dealt with in a year or two,” Sebastian Kaste, the chief dental officer at the City of Helsinki, told YLE.

The financial and other consequences of the postponements are expected to become obvious in the longer term, not least because the waiting times for preventive dental care were lengthy already before the pandemic.

“It’s still too early to evaluate what this will lead to in terms of treatment costs and dental health,” said Annamari Nihtilä, the chief dental officer at the City of Vantaa. “If patients have seen to their dental hygiene, the postponement probably won’t be detrimental. But it’s naturally a big issue for patients whose treatment has been interrupted or whose early treatments haven’t been done in time.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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