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Impact of COVID 19 on Dental Practices

The biggest challenge the world is facing right now is the outbreak of the novel Corona virus. In last 7-8 months we possibly have come to know everything about this deadly virus and its origin. Over 40 million people have been infected globally so far by Covid-19. In India there are 7.91 million active cases right now with overall recovery rate of 98%. The impact of Covid-19 on the economy and health sector of India is severe.

The whole world is going through economic and health crises. India’s ability to handle such crises is much less than countries like America, Europe and China. The outbreak of Covid-19 was catastrophic and it led these countries to change their entire medical and health care system which is not really possible for India considering our economic ability.

The health sector of India is affected in a massive way just like rest of the world. Initially, there were only 49,000 ventilators for Covid patients, which is very insufficient considering our 1.34 billion population. The worst part is people are so afraid of getting infected that they are not going to the hospitals for treatment of other diseases as this is identified as nosocomial.

Cancer, heart disease, and blood sugar patients are most affected and are not getting proper treatment as most of the medical staff are deployed to fight the Coronavirus. Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff are doing overtime and working with less equipment with the highest risk of getting infected through the government along with the hospital authorities is implementing measures to help the medical staff. As the patients are hesitant to visit hospitals, consulting through telemedicine is gaining popularity though not all illnesses can be cured virtually. Dental health is something that hardly can be cured through telemedicine. Dental surgeons and dentists are also at the highest risk of contracting the Coronavirus. Good thing that professionals from Bridgewater family dentist are still there to take care of our oral health amidst the corona pandemic.

The huge risk that dental health care sector is facing

The outbreak of Covid-19 has significantly impacted the dental health care sector as dentists are exposed directly to the patient’s transmitting organ. This is a huge threat to the dentists. According to New York Times, dental surgeons along with nurses, paramedics and other healthcare staffs are at the highest risk of contracting and transmitting Corona virus. While private practices are not getting patients due to hike in their fees, the government colleges and hospitals are facing challenges as they are not compatible with government norms and regulations. Doctors and other health care staffs need to be extra careful with dental checkups and surgery as small mistakes or irresponsible behaviour can lead to a huge suffering. Without proper equipments and resources most of the dental healthcare clinics are failing to provide proper sanitization and strict hygiene protocol. Apart from that the clinics have to pay salaries and rents, though there are no revenues for months, which is causing a huge economic impact.

How to curb the risk?

A structural change is needed in our dental healthcare sector for better hygiene and treatment. The change includes dentists and staff using proper protection before meeting a patient. Dentists and assistants need to mandatorily use PPE suits, goggles, face shields, N95 FFP3 masks, surgical gloves and shoe covers.

Not only proper equipment but also proper training and process management is important for safe dental practices. They need to update their knowledge and skills to control the infection. Sanitizing the clinic is as important as taking precautions. Without proper sanitization on regular intervals it will be hard to stop the virus from spreading further. The body temperatures of patients should be checked before entering the clinic to make sure they are not possibly infected. Another important part is communication. Dentists need to be honest and find ways to spread knowledge and awareness among the patients to prevent panics.

Teledentistry: Need of the Hour

The healthcare issues of people are being addressed even in the times of current crisis, thanks to technology. With Teledentistry as a convenient option, dental arena also has figured the way to carry out their practices and guide patients with dental issues during this pandemic situation. The idea of combining telecommunications and dentistry, involving the exchange of clinical information and images over remote distances for dental consultation and treatment planning, is the need of the hour.

Teledentistry not only has the ability to improve access to oral healthcare, improve the delivery of oral healthcare, and lower its costs, but also carries the potential to eliminate the disparities in oral health care between rural and urban communities.

Concluding Statement

This is the new normal and the virus is going to be here for a while. It might sound bitter but this is possibly the truth. To fight this deadly virus we need to work smartly and wisely. We need to be prepared for situations like this as this is not the end of a health crisis. It is important for all the health care sector staff especially dental health care personnel to educate themselves as well as the common people about the disease to prevent anxiety and panic among the patients.