The Covid-19 disease has had a catastrophic impact all over the world which includes the global shutdown, outbreak of a pandemic, rising number of cases every single day, number of deaths reported, impeding stress on the medical system to meet the increasing demands so on and so forth. The viral infection caused by severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS COV2) was the most fatal infection reported till date! But the promising research related to the Covid-19 vaccine and the global vaccination drive of citizens has helped to curb the severity of the disease to some extent. And just when everyone was trying to lighten up, a new variant of SARS COV2 called ‘omicron’ has emerged and spread in almost 38 countries including India.
The last two years during the peak of pandemic made most of the dental clinics shut world-wide. There was a paradigm shift in the conduct of dental practice. The top Indian newspaper like The Hindu reported that many dental patients had harrowing experiences owing to the shutdown of dental clinics. A senior lady from Karnataka had to live on a liquid and semi-solid diet due to a broken denture which could not be fixed because of the lock-down. Another patient from a metro city complained that he had to chew food from one side since the filling was dislodged on the other side. There are numerous such cases reported during the major lockdown since only emergency dental services were allowed to practice. Even though the therapeutic treatment was on with teleconsultation, most of the dental procedures were halted due to the change in norms!
Teachings from the past
The initial cases reported in Wuhan city of China in December 2019 led to the first and major wave of Covid-19 across the world. During this wave, all the dental practices were shut. Dentistry was considered in the high-risk category due to close proximity to patients. Only emergency cases were operated, rest of the elective procedures were postponed.
During the second wave in 2021 most of the dental practices were open and emergency, as well as non-emergency cases, were treated under strict protocols. During these two waves, the Indian Dental Association, The Dental Council of India and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued safety guidelines and protocols for dental practices which were stringently implemented by the Dentists.
These national guidelines for safe dental practice include patient screening, use of PPE, high vacuum suction and rubber dam, strict infection control protocols, minimum use of air-conditioners, cross-ventilation in the clinics, spacing of appointments etc. These guidelines have reaped immense benefits and most of the dental practices were operative during the second wave!
What are the preparations made by dental clinics during the expected third wave?
The dental practices always followed stringent infection control protocols owing to the high-risk aerosol procedures and a lot of surgical work. Due to the outbreak of the pandemic, the ministry of health and welfare has issued a lot many guidelines for dental practices. They can be implemented yet again with more caution.
DentalDost to your rescue during the third wave
- The tele-consultation will remain the mainstay during the third wave too! Patients can access tele-consultation for minor complaints and need not visit the dental clinic every time. Many dental clinics like DentalDost have a help line number which patient can directly talk with the dentist anytime, anywhere. Such helplines provide right guidance by the right person instead of patients indulging in self-medication.
- Dentists at DentalDost also guide you at every step about what needs to be done at that time.They also help you find the nearest dentist best suited to attend your case. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of exposure to different clinics especially during the pandemic.
- Any dental emergency can always be managed at dental clinics under maximum safety precautions. Use of PPE, gloves, face shield as well as patient drapes and disposables definitely helps to reduce the risk of infection transmission.
- Spacing of appointments is yet another powerful method to provide a safe environment in dental clinics. Again DentalDost makes sure you get the prefered time for your appointment without any hassel. One patient at a time and no waiting patient in the reception area can also give the patient much needed assurance. Also, enough time between two appointments facilitates cross-ventilation in the clinic.
- During these times where everyone is dealing with covid phobia, and you do not want to risk stepping out just for a mere dental consultation, DentalDost has you covered. The scanO (formerly DentalDost) app helps you to get a free dental checkup at the comfort of your home by just uploading 5 angle images.
Patients have an extra shield now!
While the last two waves were largely dependent on herd immunity, this time patients have an extra shield in the form of ‘vaccines’. The panic and fear to visit any dental practice during the pandemic was more since there was absolutely no cure to the infection and prevention was the only cure. The covid appropriate behavior was the only measure to tackle the lethal SARS COV2 virus. But the accelerated vaccine drive has given a ray of hope to the entire world and the dental practices.
The acquired immunity in patients recovered from covid-19 and the vaccines certainly will boost the confidence of the patients to tackle the expected third wave. Thus, the covid-19 appropriate guidelines followed by the dental professionals and the vaccination drive can certainly assure the patients to visit the dental clinics during the third wave. Though omicron has proved to cross the safety shield i.e the vaccine, and it still remains a risk to the vaccinated population, dental clinics still prove to be safe for carrying out all the procedures.
Is it safe to go to the Dentist in 2022?
Dental professionals were always on the war front in terms of infection control and risk of transmission of disease from the bacteria in the mouth. SARS COV2 virus has only added to this warzone in dentistry! The study published in Journal of Dental Research in 2021 by the Dept. of Periodontology, Ohio University stated that saliva was not the main source of bacteria or virus transmission through the spatter in the mouth.
Another important finding was that even though low levels of the virus was detected in the saliva of asymptomatic patients, any aerosol-generating procedure did not show the presence of a novel coronavirus. Thus, these findings help the Dentists to feel safe and secure about their practices and encourage patients to get their oral problems treated without any suspicion in their mind.
- It is completely safe to visit the dental practices during the expected third wave.
- Dental practices follow the new covid appropriate guidelines for infection control given by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
- The research conducted over two years during the pandemic have not reported Covid-19 disease transmission in the dental setup.
- The study published in the Journal of Dental Research have reported zero rate of transmission of corona virus through the aerosol generating dental procedures.
- Covid appropriate behavior and maximum vaccination will remain the mainstay during the expected third wave.