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How dentists can prepare against COVID-19?

Recently, the city of Wuhan gave rise to a mutant version of coronavirus commonly known as Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  This zoonotic species can be transmitted between the animals and humans such as bats that are involved in the current spread. Contagion spreads through direct contact with the infected person and contaminated objects such as metal surfaces and cloth pieces. Many countries have attempted to restrict the spread of contagion through social distancing and lockdown in the affected countries. However, health care providers are still present on the front line to provide appropriate treatment to the patients.

During this pandemic hitting the countries, flu season is another source of viral infection thriving through many countries. Dentists are among those health care providers who have direct contact with the patient’s as their work mainly is related to close contact with saliva and oral cavity fluid. Apart from saliva, the dental procedure produces aerosols; a form of contagion for both the patient and the health care providers in the dental clinics.

As per BDA (British Dental Association) and ADA (American Dental Association), it is advised that dentists should take some precautionary measures, beneficial at both ends.

Recommendation for Dentists:

  • To wear eye protection, disposable gowns and face mask to avoid exposure to aerosols
  • A sanitizer should be kept at the entrance.
  • Constant disinfection each place including the handles after each patient leaves.
  • Limit the surgical procedure, aim for a more conservative approach such as non-surgical extractions.
  • Avoid using pressing both buttons (air and water) on triple altogether, one at a time is best to prevent spraying.
  • Take up only emergency cases and complete the ongoing procedures.
  • Always ask patients their travel history and if the patient has any relatable symptoms to COVID before consulting.
  • Patient with any suspected symptoms wants an emergency dental procedure should be directed to the hospital for precautionary care.

Nevertheless, the main concern of the dentist is to limit the patient’s exposure not only to coronavirus even to the influenza virus, a competing infection along COVID-19. Thus, aerosols and saliva are the main mediators for the transmission of the virus increasing susceptibility of the patient to other infections that raises the mortality risk. Despite the maximum level of efforts to maintain optimum level of sterilization and sanitization for the safety for the patients, the health care providers believe that patients should limit their visit to clinics and hospital especially dental clinics. Therefore, it is recommended for the patients to approach the dentist only in case of an emergency and stay safe, stay isolated till then.

-By Dr Alizey Shahid  

March 25, 2020

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