Impact of COVID-19 restrictions on dental care in Fiji to be felt in long term

Dental services in Fiji were adversely affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.

COVID-19 raised concerns from dentists around the world (herehere and here for example) about delays to general dental care.

In the first study exploring the effects of COVID-19 on dental services in the Pacific islands, researchers from Fiji, the UK and Thailand interviewed 30 dental practitioners and 17 dental practice managers from government, private and research practices across Suva, Fiji.

Publishing in PLOS ONE, the open access, community based peer-reviewed science journal, the researchers found COVID-19 significantly affected dental services, during Fiji’s first COVID-19 wave in March 2020 and second wave in April 2021.

During those COVID-19 waves Government run dental clinics provided emergency services only during first and second waves of COVID-19. Many private clinics were closed, and the majority reduced the range of procedures available.

The restrictions had a significant effect on the range of dental services being delivered in Fiji. 

For those patients able to access dental services, the quality of services was maintained, or improved due to infection control, according to the interviews.

But some practitioners reported now seeing advanced dental diseases due to restrictions on services in 2020 and 2021.

Dentists anticipate the oral health disease burden on the population will increase, because  during COVID-19 waves, routine and preventative treatments were not being provided, and patients with COVID-19 were not able to receive treatment.

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