How has COVID changed dentistry?

dentistry after covid

The world has changed post COVID, let’s accept it.

Ok, maybe not entirely, but a lot has changed.

How the world does business has surely changed. How the employees are hired, trained, retained and fired has changed. The trade and trade-fairs changed. The get-togethers and birthday celebrations changed.

Some areas got affected more than the others. And dentistry wasn’t spared.

Since, dentistry requires close-proximation with the oral and nasal cavity of a person, it is the most sensitive of all fields to have been impacted by Covid, and as a preventive measure, had to be completely shut in the beginning of the year. Only emergency procedures were performed such as trauma or completely unavoidable surgeries.

Sterilization and hygiene protocols in dentistry have always been very stringent, and dentists across the globe have been mandated to wear PPEs such as masks, head-cap, gloves, eyewear etc. With additional guidelines laid down by ministry of health and family welfare, dentistry is now coming back on track.

Some things that are going to change completely and not stay the same anymore will be the ventilation and fumigation of the clinic, appointment management, transparency in patient safety protocols and cost of procedures.  

Ventilation and fumigation

Gone are the days, when one could open a clinic in any and every corner of a building and get away with it. Clinic location will now have an additional point on the checklist along with the business factors that were earlier considered while finalizing a location.

Having a cross ventilation facility by means of windows or exhaust placements will  add to the safety and will allow the microorganisms to pass, instead of blocking their pathways and providing them a harbor to grow and thrive.

Also, the clinic infrastructure, such as the door and windows should allow complete seal so as to fumigate effectively and prevent dispersion to achieve better disinfection.

Appointment management

There must be sufficient waiting area to allow social and physical distancing at least for 3 to 5 people, considering 2 to 3 patients and 2 accompanying persons at a time. The appointment booking should be well spaced and cut overlapping. To reduce time and business loss , the assistant or the receptionists must be trained to create a good mix of appointments in a day, so there is enough time for each patient and no time is lost in waiting for the next patient to arrive and settle.

Transparency in patient safety

Patients today demand to know the measures taken and the protocols followed by not just the dentist but the entire dental care team. Sterilized instruments must be well sealed and be opened in front of the patient only, like we have been doing for disposable needles. This would also reduce patient anxiety.

Needless to say that the entire team needs to be very mindful and stringent in practicing distancing and safety protocols.

Cost of procedures

Cost of carrying out a procedure will now definitely be higher considering the appointment changes and additional activities in clinic and instrument sterilization. Changing the entire PPE and not just the gloves after every procedure, cleaning and wiping every touch surface, the cost of time consumed in changing every single instrument, having a complete set-up even for a check-up of minor procedure will add to the overall cost of the procedure.

It has always been known to every dentist that Dental clinics are one of  the most dreaded places to visit for any person, now with COVID, the fear has only risen.

The dentists must understand this and prepare to answer more questions and take more time to connect with the patients instead of jumping right onto doing a procedure. This will alleviate fear and make the patients feel comfortable.

Today, patients may not be willing to experiment and window shop with dentists, so the focus must be on making those visiting you feel comfortable and safe so they do not need to look for any other dental clinic.

That being said, do not see these additional measures and protocols as costs, rather look at it as an investment and keep doing the great work while also making a point to connect with patients emotionally. Many may be in genuine need to be heard of. These acts will reap benefits in near future and you will slowly and steadily see a rise in patients walking in and also bringing references with them. Small measures such as these, will differentiate you from the other clinics in the vicinity.

Let’s grow QUALITY dentistry together!