It seems like every decade a new virus emerges and it manages to affect the lives of everyone. It was the case with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002, and then it followed with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (2012). They are both in the family of corona viruses along with the most novel one, COVID-19 or SARS-COV-2.
About a month ago, the WHO (World Health Organization) announced that the latest coronavirus is a pandemic, being present on more continents at once. It is clear that since then, people’s lives have been dramatically changed. More and more countries and states are introducing lockdown measures to try to stop the virus spread. Lots of people are currently out of business and many are forced to work from home.
Scientists have already begun to take samples for those who have already recovered and study the factors that helped them cure. Meanwhile, we all need to protect ourselves the best we can and respect guidelines offered by authorities. Staying home and limiting social contact with others, washing your hands, and wearing a mask whenever you go out are measures we all need to take.
It is redundant to highlight that all industries will be affected by this coronavirus - beginning with the food industry and ending with healthcare. Practices around the world will change because this virus is able to replicate and spread quicker than any other one. And it is mostly transmitted through respiratory droplets by sick people, especially when they cough and sneeze.
Considering that dentists are the closest to the virus because it can be transmitted through saliva, for sure dental practices will be impacted. They need to protect themselves more than ever and establish and respect clear measures of prevention.
So, what do we know about the virus? It all started in a wildlife market in Wuhan, China. The novel coronavirus probably originated in bats or pangolins, who developed and transmitted it to humans. Its symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, fever and muscular pain. China took severe lockdown measures, managing to stop the spread of the virus. Among the businesses that were affected and that were forced to stop are dental care ones.
All healthcare workers must use personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of the virus. Even though China has started to relax its lockdown measures and opened a few national parks to the public, Europe and the United States are still challenged by this novel coronavirus and its rapid spread. It’s clear that a lot of industries will be affected by the virus. It will impact dental practices too, especially because the dental industry is supplied by factories in China.
- There will be a delay in the delivery of products
It is no surprise that the biggest supplier of products for dentists is China. And because China experienced a complete lockdown for three months, the health industry started to feel the effects.
Even though they have started to work, there is still a high demand for medical products across the globe. Gloves, masks, goggles and other protective equipment are needed in hospitals, considering the constantly growing number of patients. The same goes for cleaning and disinfecting solutions, as well as wound care products.
Some countries managed to establish businesses and factory lines to produce protection equipment, but there is still a very high demand for medical products. And considering the fact that in some countries and states dentists were forced to stop working, there are still others where urgent problems can be resolved.
However, there will be a huge delay in the delivery of products and this will impact dental practices a lot. Because even though you still can work, if you do not have protection equipment you cannot risk exposing yourself to this virus. There are lots of people that were infected and they had all the symptoms, while many others were infected and they did not even know. Some people simply do not have any symptoms and still carry the virus, so dentists need to protect themselves at any cost.
Also, because there already is a high demand for protective equipment and disinfecting solutions, it is probable that the prices will slowly go up. Factories can ramp up production and increase the number of masks and gloves produced, but there are so many countries and hospitals that need these materials that some producers began to take advantage of the situation. And this is how someone who is able to pay more for these materials will have them delivered faster than usual, and the others will need to wait.
- Minimize the potential spread of the virus
Until now, there were a few cases where you needed to provide your traveling history, but it is a practice that dentists need to adopt to protect themselves and their staff. When people make an appointment, it is recommended to ask them if they have traveled abroad or if they came into contact with someone that was confirmed positive with coronavirus.
Because we are now talking about a spread of the virus at a community level, people who neither traveled, nor were in contact with someone ill, can have the virus. It can survive on plastic, paper, and clothes a few days so someone can carry it without knowing.
And because there are a few countries that have a low number of tests, they mostly test people who already have the symptoms. It would be recommended to test all people before going to dentists, but this is not possible at this moment. So, what can dentists do?
Take only urgent cases and always use protective equipment. Always take a detailed travel and health history of the patient. Do not treat people that have respiratory problems or people that have any flu-like symptoms. Like this, you minimize the spread of the virus and you always protect your dear ones. This was not something dentists needed to do until now, but they can be among the most exposed to the infection with coronavirus so they need to be extra cautious.
They can also post a sign at the entrance to instruct people that have the symptoms of coronavirus or any flu-like symptoms to postpone or reschedule their appointment. If they make a phone call to make an appointment, before confirming it, conduct a detailed interview about their health state and travel history. Like this, you will be able to reschedule the intervention before confirming it.
Reschedule the appointment no sooner than two weeks. You can also keep in contact with the patient and do a close follow up to see if he has any symptoms. You can do this by phone or conduct a video call. However, there will be urgent cases that cannot be rescheduled and that you need to treat. Dentists can provide emergency care in negative pressure rooms that prevent the spread of the virus.
- Staff Management
Because dentists treat fewer patients nowadays, their income will be reduced. And the most unfortunate people in this situation are the ones that are members of the staff. Dentists will be less able to pay full wages to their staff and it will mostly be a salary cut.
Most people on staff may be let go and sadly the unemployment insurance will cover their expenses only partially. However, dentists who are still able to work can cut the salaries of their staff and they can shorten their working schedule. It would be easier for some of their staff to face this challenge.
This new coronavirus will have an important impact on dental practices around the world. Dentists are among the most exposed to the risk of getting the disease and transmitting it to other patients. With all these lockdown and quarantine measures, lots of factories have delayed the production of protection equipment and there will be a huge delay in delivering these materials.
Dentists need to change the way they approach patients. By conducting telephone screenings on the traveling and health history of their patients, they will hopefully see an increase in dental appointments after this lockdown ends.
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Tiffany Harper is a freelance writer and journalist who offers the best paper writing service and dissertation writing services at Dissertation Today. She is an expert in wellness and healthcare areas, works with Top Essay Writing Services and Top Resume Reviews on these topics. She is among the most appreciated journalists who offers top essay writing services UK on healthcare issues. Tiffany helps people and medical professionals overcome the challenge of the current pandemic.
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