The COVID-19 crisis has affected various industries worldwide. One industry that has significantly been impacted is dentistry.
The dental community faces a handful of challenges. These include issues with patient safety, dental access, dental revenue, and oral health equality. This doesn’t mean, however, that the industry isn’t presented with new opportunities. Expect the emergence of digital options, continuous dental research, and robust dental programs.
In this article, we’ll share some challenges and opportunities confronted by the dental community during the pandemic. Keep on reading to learn more.
Let’s take a look at some challenges faced by the dental community during this pandemic:
- Patient safety: Patient safety is a top priority, and this is one challenge confronted by the dental community during the pandemic. Dental professionals must strictly comply with dental guidelines set forth by proper authorities. These include using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), following standard airborne measures, and treating patients in a negative pressure room.
Other measures to practice include having limited dental practitioners during the treatment and disinfecting surfaces with EPA-approved solutions, among others. The goal is to ensure virus prevention and infection control in the dental office setting.
- Limited dental access: Due to the COVID-19 crisis, delays in oral health care have become more apparent. These are primarily because of dental office closures and infection control measures in the dental office settings. Other reasons include the patients’ reluctance to seek oral care during a pandemic and the loss of dental insurance coverage provided by employers.
In fact, a report revealed that about 33 percent of patients had canceled or postponed their appointments during the first lockdown. Such delays in oral care have led to untreated tooth decay, oral infections, gum diseases, and even dental emergencies.
- Financial repercussion: The pandemic has led to a negative economic impact among dental businesses. As people opt to delay or cancel their dental appointments, dental practice revenues are significantly compromised. In fact, 80 percent of dental businesses have seen a decrease in their current income, and they expect this to continue in the next few years. Along with this is that they have to invest in dental resources such as PPE and EPA-approved chemical solutions. These add up to their dental expenditures.
- Oral health inequality: Another grave concern is how the COVID-19 crisis has led to the inequality of providing oral care among certain groups. The most impacted are those older people, individuals with underlying health conditions, and people with disabilities. Also, ethnic groups such as Black and Asian were reported to be hesitant of getting oral care, as they opt not to do so unless it is an urgent dental issue. The challenge here is to mitigate such inequality by identifying and meeting the needs of vulnerable people.
Now, let’s tackle some opportunities presented to the dental community amid the global pandemic:
- Digital dental options: Despite the global pandemic, the dental community has found ways to continue providing dental services. One way to do so is to utilize the web, and that is where teledentistry comes into the picture. Dental professionals now take advantage of the use of the internet to reach out to clients. Patients can now have dental consultations with their dentists via the internet.
- Continous dental research: Twenty-two percent of dentists believe that the global pandemic has presented them with new opportunities. This can be attributed to the ongoing researches in dentistry despite the pandemic. Dental researchers now focus on key issues such as setting new dental practice workflows, developing and testing new approaches to dental procedures, and assessing alternative dental workforce models such as the use of dental therapists.
- Robust dental training programs: Did you know that 60 percent of dentists said that the crisis doesn’t affect their decision to retire from or continue their dental practice? This goes to show that the dental workforce will continue to thrive in the next few years. In fact, various schools and institutions continue to offer dental programs, whether general, restorative, or even cosmetic dentistry. They also offer dental assisting programs and courses for those who want to be dental assistants. Even training for dental therapy has recently been introduced due to the COVID-19 crisis.
There’s no sign of the COVID-19 crisis coming to an end anytime soon. For this reason, the dental community must continue to take the necessary steps to address the present challenges. Most importantly, it must take advantage of the opportunities presented by the current circumstances. Ultimately, the dental community always must foster oral health, and they must continue to do so, no matter what.
Meta title: How the COVID-19 Crisis Affects the Dental Community
Meta desc: The global pandemic brought about by the COVID-19 crisis has impacted various industries such as dentistry. Let’s take a look at some challenges and opportunities faced by the dental community.