With lockdown and social distancing measures in place to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, visiting your dentist and optician for routine appointments is currently off the cards.

That means non-urgent dental treatments like check-ups, scaling and polishing and orthodontic care - plus routine optometry services such as eye examinations, which would normally be covered by health insurance - are suspended. But you can still access emergency optical and dental care.

Where can I get treatment for dental problems during the pandemic?

Most dental practices have measures in place to provide remote support in the form of telephone advice, or even video-link consultations, for any issues you experience with your teeth. You can be prescribed pain relief or antibiotics if necessary and, in some instances, dental prescriptions can be sent direct to your local pharmacy.

Where your dentist deems your problem to be an emergency requiring further care, you’ll be referred for face to face treatment at one of the newly created urgent dental centres across the UK, which have been set up in direct response to the pandemic. If you have a dental emergency out of usual surgery hours, you should call NHS 111. 

What counts as a dental emergency during lockdown?

Issues such as minor toothache, missing fillings, crowns or veneers are classed as non-emergencies you’ll be expected to self-manage at home until normal dental service resumes.

But if you’re experiencing severe problems such as acute dental and facial pain that can’t be controlled by medication, a broken tooth or significant swelling of the face, you should be referred for emergency treatment near to your home.

How can I access eye care during the COVID-19 crisis?

Routine eye examinations are suspended until further notice, but many opticians are offering phone and video consultations to chat through any concerns you have.

Face to face appointments will only be given where an optometrist feels it’s essential and when a delay in being seen may be detrimental to a patient’s sight or wellbeing; if you’ve broken or lost your glasses or contact lenses and need a replacement pair to function, for example. 

Appointments are also available for emergency optical services, such as the removal of a foreign object in the eye or to investigate sudden changes in vision, as well as flashes or ‘floaters’ that might indicate retina detachment. You may also be referred to a hospital eye service.

What dental and optical treatment does my health insurance cover me for during the Coronavirus pandemic?

Though you can’t currently access routine dental and optical treatment, you can still claim for essential and emergency procedures that your health insurance policy normally covers. And, if you’re admitted to an NHS hospital for dental or optical treatment, you could be eligible for a cash benefit for every night you stay in hospital, depending on your policy. 

In fact, many of our partners have improved their NHS cash benefits during the COVID-19 crisis. Most of these improved benefits apply only to COVID-19 related admissions, but some companies have extended the higher payments to cover any NHS hospital admission normally included in their policies. 

Remember that, even though you may not be able to access all the dental or optical treatment that your private health insurance plan covers you for right now, by keeping your plan active and protecting your cover, you’ll be well placed to access treatment quickly when the Coronavirus pandemic subsides.

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For any other questions you may have regarding health insurance at this unprecedented time, our Coronavirus health Q&As can help.