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The New Normal in Dentistry After COVID 19

The New Normal in Dentistry After COVID 19

July 8, 2020

As each passing day of COVID 19 lockdown, we all are getting more and more eager to return to our normal life. After over 3 months of lockdown, dentists have slowly started to open their clinics and practice their art, staff has started returning to their work, to attend and provide outstanding patient care.

However, the question arises, as we gradually step out into the world and experience a new normal, what can a patient expect from a trip to the dentist amidst COVID19?

How are Dental Practices Coping During these Uncertain Times? 

Dental surgeons are at the highest risk of contracting and transmitting the corona virus alongside other healthcare providers. COVID 19 has a devastating effect on the dental industry, and with a constant rise in the pandemic growth curve, it is difficult to predict the long-term impact at this point of time.

Dental hospitals have adapted to the structural changes in dentistry to meet the present-day requirements. Dentists in India along with their assistants have undergone proper training and process management in following the guidelines provided by the Indian Dental Association (IDA) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to ensure minimum risk to patients and dentists. 

Dentistry includes many high-risk Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs) which are the primary obstacle to the resumption of routine dental practice. Risks due to AGPs can be reduced using PPE, latest air filtration and decontamination systems, high-speed air evacuation systems along with disinfection procedures for workers, patients and equipment. 

It is mandatory for the dentists and their assistants to wear personal protective gear at all times.

What is the New Normal?

Post COVID a new norm has begun in multiple cases and a few are listed below,

  • Patient Waiting Time & Procedure: In which the waiting area has minimum activity, patients wait in their cars, in the parking lot to receive a text that informs them when the doctor is ready for their appointment. They are discouraged from bringing any unnecessary company with them during their visit, except for instances where they may need help getting home. 
  • Precautionary measures for Safety of Patients: Before entering, temperature is taken using no-contact thermometer. Patients are asked to sanitize their hands and wear gloves, mouth mask, head cap and shoe covers. Patients are also discouraged from bringing any unnecessary items like laptops and shopping bags inside the clinic.
  • Hygiene Standards in the Clinic Environment: Dental clinics are more ventilated, new HVAC filter installation is recommended; strict hygiene is being maintained. Electronic payments are becoming more common to reduce physical contact. 
  • Precautions taken during dental procedures: Autoclave machines are used more frequently, instruments like mirrors and probes are being packed separately for each patient. Disposables are becoming more popular to avoid any transmission of virus, these include mirrors, probes, burs, etc. Dental treatments which release aerosols are being avoided and instead more conservative means are used (e.g. use of hand instruments).

To conclude, it is very unlikely to get the ‘old’ normal back. Instead, changes will keep happening to avoid the spread of infection. A Big bright smile and straight aligned teeth are nearly everyone’s goal, cosmetic and emergency treatments will soon become more aligned with changing times when innovative technologies, treatments and marketplace catch up with the new recommendations and realities in cosmetic dental surgery . All we must do is be patient and hopeful during a time like this.

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