Dentists all around the world are grasping to come in terms with the ‘new normal’ around them. There’s undue confusion amidst patients and dentists regarding the fears concerning treatment protocols due to COVID-19. The smartest way to convince patients is to convince yourself first.
‘ Life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better with change‘.
We shall elaborate below on changes to reduce fear and panic in patients by dentists. Before that, we need to reinforce the importance of dental treatments in our lives.
The governments had shut down all dental clinics for elective procedures for a long time. This meant that people could no longer visit dentists.This inevitably led to an upsurge in the trend of DIY dentists all around the world. This caused more problems than it temporarily solved.
BBC News posted an article wherein, a woman named Marilyn Jones replaced a broken filling with Blu Tack as a result of shut services.
Mrs. Jones, 66, said: “You have to improvise, necessity is the mother of invention.
“I thought, ‘What can I use?’ The only thing I had was Blu Tack.
“My husband offered me his chewing gum but I decided on the Blu Tack.
“I wasn’t very happy with a little black stump.”
If that does not surprise you enough, another BBC news article described how Billy Taylor, a 33-year-old man from the UK ended up removing his own teeth. This entire ordeal took him around one and a half hours of unbearable excruciating pain.
The most important thing to be known about DIY dentists is that no such thing actually exists.
These hacks cause irreparable harm to their teeth and oral cavity.
The New Normal for Dentist Appointments
‘Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle’.
We should abide by this philosophy when faced with any uncertainty. As the entire world grasps and sails through unprecedented times, innovations, and improvisations are embraced unanimously. Dentists have always elicited fear among people due to the preconceived notions, even before the virus. This continues when dental practices have resumed worldwide.
In India, only 6-7% of the general population opt for dental treatments due to lack of awareness. The stigma related to COVID shall furthermore deteriorate general oral health problems. Our basic health optimization starts in the mouth.
Teeth are organs connected closely to the brain with nerves and interlaced with a network of blood and lymph supply. The mouth is the mirror of your entire health. Your autonomic nervous system that could be in the chronic sympathetic state. This means it could be in fight and flight which could be due to toxicity in the mouth or interlinked immune system changes. This could elicit major chronic problems resulting in stress.
Patients should note a few points :
- No tooth pain will go away merely by employing home remedies like clove oil.
- It’s imperative to visit the dentist if you want permanent relief.
- Small treatment can become an emergency tomorrow.
- A necessary root canal could manifest as an extra-oral sinus in exacerbated condition.
Effective ways to assuage fears
We need to meet our new normal with all the necessary precautions to protect ourselves.
Dentists are at the greatest risk due to the nature of treatment protocol. Although it’s important to realize before Covid-19 had entered the scene, there were 38 infections dentists battled including hepatitis, SARS, and HIV already. We need to ‘Reset and Restart our lives. There is no news worldwide reported COVID cases transmission through dental offices.
Dentists should be better Informed
Patients should be informed of expected changes during their next appointment. It’s essential to iterate, and then reiterate the new modifications in the clinic. Dentists can use applications like GoogleMyBusiness, for listing practice hours online. When someone’s searching Google for a dental clinic near them for an immediate emergency, it will help if you have updated office hours listed. Patients need to unlearn the misinformation spread online.
Precautions to be taken by Dentists
The dental clinics have significantly reduced patient load. The waiting room norms have radically changed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eliminated its recommendation, stating ‘that dental care personnel wait 15 minutes after completion of clinical care and exit each patient without suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to begin to clean and disinfect room surfaces’.
Digitalized paperwork will reduce contact between the dentist and patients. This shall make the transactions and data sharing significantly more efficient and durable. There are many applications like DDS GP, Dental Expert, LexDental Complete, Healthcoco, and more.
Enforce rehearsed guidelines and share it on an online platform
Dentists can efficiently rehearse the sanitation and treatment safety protocols with their entire dental team. The use of entire Personal Protective Equipments, aerosol removal high suction machines, formalin chambers, four-step sterilization techniques, and HEPA filter along with all modifications can be displayed efficiently. This can be recorded and uploaded online so that patients can know what to expect while visiting during the next appointment. Remember, uncertainty is the root cause of fear. Eliminating this shall spearhead major feat for patients as well as dentists themselves.
Optimize Teledentistry by Dentists
The job of e-dentist has rapidly picked up. Patients can freely connect through innumerable applications with the clinics. They successfully triage patients over the phone and video call to assess the situation further. Doctors can successfully prescribe medications also to reduce risk.
Ask and answer questions
Dentists and patients should facilitate effective communication mean to ask and clarify doubts concerning the treatment. Education about the aerosol-generating procedure and non-aerosol generating procedure should be given. It’s necessary to know that the aerosols produced which shall possibly shoot particles shall efficiently be picked up by ventilation systems. Studies advocate that simple hygiene devices can eliminate 93% of aerosols produced.
Biotechnology has facilitated spin-offs of rapid mass testing methods involving antigens. Potentially these can give us instant results almost alike pregnancy tests. The primary focus for medical experts is vaccine search.
It’s important to know that sample collection swabs are from nasopharynx and oropharynx for COVID-19. If saliva had a high viral load, it could be carried out easily. There is a high correlation between poor oral hygiene and lung infection. Although research is still nascent, we should look at the bigger picture while optimizing our health.
Adhering to guidelines given down by authorities like DCI aligned with World Health Organisation shall help us reduce uncertainty while carrying our treatments. Dental problems shall not go away on its own, only return compounded at a greater price. We should act smartly and collectively to tackle the COVID crisis.