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COVID-19: Dental community ready to face new challenges?

Since its outbreak, COVID-19, an infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus, has spread across the globe to an extent that WHO has declared it as a pandemic.

By Dr Sumaiya Hasan

COVID-19: Fast and Furious

Owing to its rapid transmission from infected animal or person, COVID-19 poses a serious threat to the health and economy globally. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person and other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. The virus is said to remain viable on surfaces for different time periods depending on the type of surface, temperature and humidity of the environment.

COVID-19 vs the Dental Community

The contagious nature of the virus due to its easy spread and sustainably in the community raises question particularly for the health care community regarding their preparedness and especially those who deal directly with the aerosol – the dentists!

The major challenge which the dental community is facing in the present era of COVID-19 pandemic is related to the cross infection control in the dental clinics and OPDs. The protocols must not only apply while dealing with COVID-19 patients but should be practised regularly as “Every patient must be considered infectious” is one of the golden rules of the cross infection control strategies. Whether the dental community is prepared or not for the COVID-19 is a question which can be answered when the dental community is satisfied in terms of the following concerns:

  • Existence of an infectious disease preparedness and response plan.
  • Knowledge and practice of the dental community regarding basic infection prevention measures.
  • Availability of the personal protective equipment in ample amount and appropriate quality.
  • Availability of the surface disinfectants and hand hygiene equipment including potent sanitisers.
  • Availability of man power and skills for six handed dentistry.
  • Presence of engineering controls such as physical barriers in the clinics/ OPDs.
  • Availability of armamentarium which can reduce the risk of transmission of disease during the dental procedure. Examples of such armamentarium include high volume suction, rubber dam etc.
  • Ability of dental professionals to identify and deal with a suspected case of COVID-19 or any other contagious diseases.

Ready for Pandemic?

The dental community can be considered as “ready for pandemic” if all those (dental students, professionals, hygienists or assistants) performing or assisting a dental procedure, practice cross infection control manoeuvres without any breach, in their routine dental practice too. Last but not the least, the preparation of the dental community for the COVID-19 pandemic is an issue affected by multiple factors such as the role played by administrations of hospitals, OPDs and clinics; legislative decisions and the economy.

March 24, 2020

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