The dental professional is waging a ferocious war against COVID-19, the invisible enemy. To prepare for battle, dental professionals have Zoomed, webinared, phoned, e-mailed, texted, talked, reflected, discussed, shared, learned, and shopped. To reopen, dental practices have masked, barriered, digitized, cleaned, covered, sprayed, wiped, sanitized, decontaminated, autoclaved, air purified, suctioned, UVed, and fogged.
Patients are held in their cars or hallways, the wonderfully euphemistic “virtual waiting room,” until those other potential virus-carrying patients are gone, then ushered in to be greeted by the administrative team through plexiglass and/or masks and face shields to be temperature checked and health questioned. Patients are asked to wash their hands, and in some cases also instructed to rinse their mouths and don disposable protective gear just for them.
In treatment rooms patients encounter a clinical team in full COVID-19 PPE regalia who look like Neil and Buzz on the surface of the moon, triumphant in a hostile environment.
For years we talked about educating patients and explaining treatment. The pandemic has reminded us that there is a cohort of patients who are committed to optimal oral health. They demand dental care; they hold dental professionals in high regard; and they appreciate all the extraordinary measures taken to keep them safe.
Given the dental profession’s outstanding track record of protecting patients, their team and themselves from cross contamination due to H1N1, HIV/AIDS, SARS, MERS, and other pathogens, the public can rest assured that dentists will never be satisfied in their quest to provide quality care in the safest possible environment. When dentists cannot jam one more piece of anti-viral equipment into a treatment room, they still ask, “Are we doing enough?”
The virus is a formidable enemy, but it does not stand a chance of getting between dental professionals and their patients.