Covid-19 threw the world into chaos. Businesses and practices all over the United States were forced to close under government mandate, placing many dentists out of work. Now as the world begins to open again, dentists are finding a surge of patients seeking vital dental care. However, what is the best way for dentists to maneuver this surge, ensuring the safety of their patients and themselves? Well, TopDoctor Magazine has three key things every dentist should know regarding post-quarantine practices.
1. The first thing dentists need to know is that the state of oral care is a lot worse than before.
Citizens across the United States lost access to vital oral care in March when practices closed. This left many serious dental injuries and conditions untreated, forcing people to perform DIY oral procedures on themselves. Molars were extracted in-home and excruciating tooth pain was left untreated. Yet, those were the least of the worries. For the months that doors were closed, oral hygiene declined due to lack of access to essentials, caused either by a shortage of supply or lack of funds from unemployment. When practices finally opened up again, only those who had made appointments far in advance had received urgent and proper care. Many Americans today still require dentist appointments, but booking issues continue to halt the process. So it is imperative that dentists prepare for the influx of patients, either hiring more staff or handling appointments better than before.
2. Secondly, dentists must understand that protection is of the utmost importance when treating patients during the pandemic.
A running theory regarding Covid-19 is that it spreads from oral and nasal droplets. The nature of dentistry brings them up close to these areas, so it is good to have some sort of facial shielding, not just a mask. Some practices have begun to use paper shieldings around the patient’s mouth that hide the tongue, preventing splashback. Through wearing shielding and covering the patient’s mouth, both individuals are protected during procedures. However, there is more to protection than just facial protection. Social distancing is just as important as the latter. Yet, this is where patient treatment becomes difficult. Social distancing means only being able to accept so many patients in-office at a time. This can be combated with an increase of in-office aid and a well designed digital platform for users to register for appointments.
3. The last bit of advice for dentists is advice that dentists should give to their patients.
To ensure dental health is to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. If there is an issue, dentists should prepare a questionnaire for patients to fill out, and if they pass the criteria then they can come in for an appointment. Criteria to consider would be temperature, travel history, current symptoms, exposure to others, and any other relevant information required. Right now is a time of communication, and patients need to understand that wait times may be longer than usual. If there is a nonfatal emergency, practices should set up a call center for patients to call regarding concerns. Having a space dedicated to calls may reduce office traffic, which protects everyone.
Regardless, there should be no reason for practices to not reopen. With the technology available, and knowledge regarding Covid-19, doctors have all the tools they need to keep their practices open and pioneer through the pandemic. The world needs dentists now more than ever, so will you answer the call?
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