Dental in the era of contagious infectious disease

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How will dental change after the COVID-19 outbreak?

In the midst of the current outbreak of coronavirus, we are going to make a bold prediction. We will get past the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020 will shape the world for years to come. Much like world events such as September 11, 2001 and the financial crises of 2008, the COVID-19 crisis will have effects that will last well beyond its actual life span.

In light of this reality, we’ll take a look at how dental care may evolve in the new era of contagious infectious disease.

Dental will continue to be an essential health care need

One of the new phrases that has come to light during the coronavirus outbreak is the term “essential business.” With many states and cities declaring shelter in place orders, only essential businesses and activities are allowed to continue during the virus outbreak. Medically necessary health and dental care typically falls into this category, while elective procedures have been postponed.

This public health decision confirms the truth that many dental professionals already know. Oral health is essential. While it’s true that many dental practices had to postpone routine dental check up’s, medically necessary treatments to address more severe dental issues have been generally allowed to continue. This is great news for patients who were experiencing oral pain due to their condition.

Dental professionals will continue to be an integral part of health and wellness, and the services they provide are essential indeed.

Dental practices will adapt to provide safe environments for their patients

Another term that has been popularized during the COVID-19 outbreak, is the concept of social distancing. Most people have been told to remain at home, but if they go to a public place they are to stay at least 6 feet away from others. Hand washing has also been emphasized as a key element for public safety.

Even after the worst of the outbreak has passed, businesses and health practitioners will look to ways to provide safe environments for their customers and patients. Concepts such as appropriate distancing and personal hygiene will play a bigger role in future operations.

Remedies such as more thorough and consistent cleaning of waiting rooms will be implemented. The spacing of chairs and benches will also become a consideration of office design and function. Dental offices will be sure to provide hand sanitizer with posted policies that require patients to take personal responsibility to help keep others safe. These are a few likely changes that many dental practices will employ in the future.

Safety procedures will be emphasized to protect dental care professionals

The worldwide outbreak of an infectious disease has also highlighted the risk that health professionals face when treating sick patients. Sadly more than a few providers have been infected while treating their patients. This reality may affect the way dental professionals work to protect themselves, while also continuing to treat their patients.

One practice that may become widespread is the use of temperature checks for all patients before any visits are allowed. While not perfect, screening patients for fever can be a first line of defense to health professionals who are treating patients. Offices may determine protocols for how to deal with sick patients regarding the urgency of their procedure and the option of potential delay.

Dentists will also emphasize time tested practices of hygiene and the use of personal protection equipment. The use of gloves and masks has always been a part of the dental experience. However their importance has been highlighted, and dental professionals will be more vigilant to carry out the effective use of personal protection in the future.

The modern way of social life and business activity will persevere

Despite the tragedy of the COVID-19 outbreak, history tells us that life will eventually return to a sense of normalcy. Just as air travel continued after the horror of 9/11, business life and social activity will resume after the pandemic has fully ended.

Similar to how September 11th introduced more extensive airport security and screening, the COVID-19 outbreak will bring new ways that society will implement to help mitigate the risks of transmitting any future contagion.

Thankfully we are able to learn from past events and develop new techniques to help protect our citizens and maintain the essential activities of life. Dental care will continue and improve after 2020, and that is an essential truth we must all remember.


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