It is late August as I sit to write this article. Summer is waning, COVID-19 is very much in the picture, and the school year is still up in the air for most. As I wrote last month, stress is everywhere!
Last week the dental community had one more thing to add to its stress. The national news reported that a recent article (titled Considerations for the Provision of Essential Oral Health Services in the Context of COVID 19) from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that routine dental care should be avoided during this pandemic. Naturally, this news caused additional angst among patients, the American Dental Association to push back, and dentists everywhere to groan!
But here is the good news –this is old news! These recommendations from the WHO are completely in concert with what my office, and offices throughout the country, have been doing.
Within the article is a statement that “National, subnational, and local mandates and recommendations should always be the ultimate guide for the dental practice and for the patients”. Dental offices have been following the CDC and ADA recommendations for their locales since the beginning of the pandemic.
My philosophy is that routine dental care is essential for all people to maintain good health. That said, I always take a close look at the benefit/risk for treating compromised and older patients. In fact, during the almost 12 week office shutdown, my team and I reviewed all of our postponed patients to ascertain who needed to come in immediately when the office opened, who was able to have routine dental care, and who should be postponed until the pandemic had been contained. This list is fluid and changes with the patient’s health and the virus spread.
When I started my professional life in the early 80’s, I didn’t wear gloves when I treated patients! Then AIDS hit. Everything changed and dentists became “specialists” in universal precautions and infection control. We began to treat all patient as if they had HIV-AIDS and, in 2020, we are treating all patients as if they carry COVID, while screening and trying to ensure that COVID carriers do not enter the office.
The additional equipment, PPE, and time required to treat patients during the pandemic are worth it because it allows us to keep everyone safe, while providing essential health care. Please stay well and be assured that we’re here for you.
PHOTO CAP: The sterilization area is central to safety at BCDD